Private schools see more interest as they plan to reopen as public schools stay mostly remote

Updated: Jul. 27, 2020 at 6:04 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - After many public school districts in the Charlotte area opted for mostly remote learning this fall, some parents are searching for other options.

Private schools are now picking up the calls of hundreds of parents who are interested in learning more about different private schools’ reopening plans.

WBTV’s news partners at the Charlotte Observer said of the 40 largest private schools in Mecklenburg County, 31 have publicly announced that they intend to hold at least some classes on campus.

Many private schools are adding modifications to the day to day school life like temperature readings, social distancing and limited class sizes.

“We are just a different dynamic,” said Janet Ballard, head of school at Back Creek Christian Academy.

Back Creek Christian Academy is one of the smaller private schools in the area. Ballard said they started receiving dozens of calls as soon as area public schools announced their plans to stay mostly in remote learning.

“We can cap enrollment. It allows for us to facilitate things in a safe manner,” Ballard said.

The school will do temperature checks, smaller class sizes and the outdoor hallways will be one way to keep distance between students. They also have back-up plans, in case they need to opt to more remote learning.

Ballard says because they are reopening full time, with safety measures and extra cleaning, many parents have reached out wanting to know more about the registration process.

“In the summer, we get 4-5 tours a week, and we’re getting 4 tours a day, so it’s picked up,” she said.

Administrators at Carolina Christian Academy in Lancaster, South Carolina is seeing an increase in enrollment as well.

“To be honest, last year I had 12 students and this year I have 25,” said 2nd grade teacher, Jennifer Laughlin.

Laughlin believes more parents are looking into private schools seeking a sense of normalcy, knowing that private schools don’t have to follow state guidelines for reopening procedures.

“We have to at some point take our precautions, but go on and live, that’s what we’re doing here,” she said.

One of those precautions is a new app, which requires parents to go through a health check list with their students everyday before they go to school.

“As a teacher, I know everyone one of my students has a green light and everyone is good to go.” But Laughlin isn’t just a teacher. “I’m also a parent. I have a daughter who’s going to be a senior here. As a parent, I feel very safe.”

Other private schools in the Charlotte area who weren’t available for interviews tell WBTV News they’ve seen well over 100 applications in the last few weeks - and even more parents requesting information about the schools’ reopening plans.

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