While many public schools across Virginia will keep their doors closed in lieu of virtual classrooms this fall, a private school may be the in-person educational option parents and students are looking for.
Fork Union Military Academy (FUMA) (7-12, male-only) is one such option. The boarding military school is known for its “One Subject Plan.” Students are enrolled in one subject at a time, allowing them to focus on one specific area of study for 7 weeks at a time. FUMA will offer in-person classes and athletics programs during the fall while taking necessary precautions for the health of its students and staff.
Atlantic Shores Christian School (ASCS) (K-12) is another private school that will teach its students in physical classrooms this fall. ASCS is a non-denominational Christian School that builds its educational structure on Christian core values like teaching Christ-like character and building a passion for learning within its students.
Many other private schools, including Free Union Country School (pre-K-5) and all 29 Catholic private schools administered by the Diocese of Richmond will offer either fully in-person or hybrid classes for the start of the 2020-2021 school year.
The shift in public schools to online learning has made the in-person education offered by private schools more attractive. Grace Creasy, the executive director of the Virginia Council for Private Education (VCPE), told WVTF that “many, many [private schools] across the state increased enrollment.”
This bump in enrollment is partially from homes where both parents work.
As USA Today reported in June, virtual learning is a difficult option for many households across the country, and students suffer for it. When schools pivoted to virtual classes at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the spring, “millions simply disappeared or logged on but didn’t participate.”
Indeed, students are slipping through the cracks in an online-only educational model. Pupils are not attending virtual classes, turning in assignments, or communicating with their teachers.
Teachers themselves have few options for increasing virtual participation.
Writing on the matter for EdWeek, Susanna Loed says that “on average, students do worse in the online setting, and this is particularly true for students with weak academic backgrounds.”
“What is different in the online setting is that students may have more distractions and less oversight, which can reduce their motivation.”
All of these issues have compounded into an implosion of the K-12 public education system.
The problems may only worsen as more and more schools lean heavier into online learning. Fauquier County Public Schools recently changed course for the fall, shifting to online schooling instead of the hybrid model upon which they had decided over the summer.
When asked, 60% of FCPS parents said they wanted in-person learning. FCPS has originally planned a hybrid model for the Fall but has since backtracked to online only.
For those parents and students that unwillingly face online-only learning from their local public school system, private schools may be an option to explore.
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Sam Medley is a journalist at the Tennessee Star and Star News Network. You can follow Sam at Twitter. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Fork Union Military Academy” by Sparkyhardwood. CC BY-SA 4.0.