Local parents turning to private schools amid pandemic

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GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. — Phones have been ringing off the hook as parents work to decide where their kids will be the safest learning in the fall.

Guilford County parents are now exactly one month away from the start of the school year. 

FOX8 learned some parents are looking at private schools instead of remote learning or public education. 

“There are certain considerations we don’t have to make. Some public school districts may have thousands or even tens of thousands of students,” said Tim Holland, the head of school at Caldwell Academy. 

It’s a smaller student body and one campus. 

“We’re not dealing with busing. We’re not dealing with multi-campus sites,” he explained. “So that’s just different.”

Holland said the phones have been ringing since Governor Cooper announced public schools will use a mix of remote and in-person learning starting in August. 

“Families are hoping to have an in-person learning environment for their students. There’s a mental health benefit to community and being with people,” Holland said. 

With smaller class sizes and more space, they’re able to make things safer for kids to stay in school. 

“We’re just built differently,” he added. 

At Greensboro Day School, Tracie Catlett and her staff have been planning on how to keep kids healthy. 

“We can spread out across our campus. I mean, we’re super lucky. We have 65 acres,” she explained. “We’ll have tents up, in case the weather is bad where students can have lunch, have recess and class. Outdoor education is going to be a big part of our campus when we come back.” 

Catlett is the head of the school. She’s been working with teams to make changes to the classrooms.

They’re also installing a new air filtration system.

Catlett told FOX8 they’ve also been managing a renewed, increased interest in private school education.

“The more kids are isolated and away at home learning…everyone comes from a different background. It’s not a level playing field for everyone,” she added. 

It does come at a cost. 

But it’s something both Catlett and Holland said doesn’t necessarily make it unattainable.

“Approximately 30% of our students receive financial aid. We’re also bumping up our COVID Relief Scholarship Fund for families who are experiencing economic hardship,” Catlett said. 

“To families who might think that a private school education is out of reach for their families…don’t assume that,” Holland said. “There are certainly ways that tuition assistance can be made available.

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