Twin Cities private schools retain students following COVID-19 enrollment boost

Families who enrolled their children in a Twin Cities private school during COVID-19 are sticking around for the upcoming 2021 school year, reports the Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal.

School closures among many public schools to start the 2020 school year and parent frustration over a distance learning model caused a good number of families to look into alternative learning environments that could meet their children’s needs. 

Several of the metro area’s largest private schools reported enrollment increases for the 2020-21 school year, which leaders attributed to their ability to return to in-person schooling last fall, while public schools were subject to state government guidelines that prevented districts from meeting in-person if infection rates were above a certain threshold.

According to the Minnesota Department of Education, the number of students enrolled in the state’s public schools decreased by 17,000 students (two percent) for the 2020 school year, while homeschooling and private school enrollment increased.

With the reshuffling of student enrollment, it was largely unknown whether the shift to learning environments outside of the district schools would be a temporary phenomenon or not.

But given that pandemic-related restrictions are being rolled back, and private schools are still seeing high retention rates, “families moved to these private schools for a specific purpose — consistent in-person learning —” and “don’t plan to switch schools again come the fall,” the Business Journal continues.

American Experiment has also heard from numerous public school parents that they pursued other learning options because of the concerning lesson content and political ideology they were seeing in their children’s education.

The high retention for this fall has been unexpected, according to several Twin Cities private school leaders.

[Head of Legacy Christian Academy Jake] Mulvihill said he expected retention to be lower for next year among the group of students who enrolled during the pandemic. He figured that those who came to Legacy for face-to-face instruction would return to public schools once COVID-related restrictions were lifted. Instead, he thinks COVID pushed people who had been considering switching to a private school to do so sooner, and so they’re staying put.

Hill-Murray School President-elect Melissa Dan said she expected the retention rate for the fall to be similar to past years because life has been so volatile over the past 14 months. Instead, retention is at an all-time high. “We were kind of anticipating the opposite.”