Private schools hold enrollments steady
“I’m incredibly excited that we finished the year strong and are beginning the year strong,” says Thomas de Quesada, executive director of enrollment and community outreach at Belen Jesuit Preparatory School.
Private schools are eager to begin the 2021-22 school year now with covid receding. Miami Co-Educational American Academy, or MCA, and Westminster Christian School both had a full year in-person. They followed guidelines from local, state and national health governmental agencies.
“Our school is small, so with only ten students in the elementary school, we met CDC guidelines and could be in person, masked and socially distanced,” MCA Principal Ingrid Acosta said. The school has 28 students in middle school and 30 in high school. With those larger numbers, the school alternated which grades were in-person biweekly.
“We expect enrollment numbers to be about the same, with the potential of a slight decrease,” Ms. Acosta said.
Westminster Christian School also had a full year in person. “We were the first school in South Florida to open with on-campus, in-person instruction in August 2020,” said Ana Poveda, director of communications and marketing. “We were blessed with full enrollment for the 2020-21 school year, and we are fully enrolled for the 2021-22 school year.” The school has 1,250 students, pre-school through 12 grades, returning. Administrators hope to resume standard school operations with few restrictions, Ms. Poveda said.
Belen Jesuit Preparatory School did not have a full year in 2020-21. Students returned to campus in masks in October 2020. When the pandemic began in March, all students were learning virtually at home. They transitioned to hybrid pedagogy, or students rotating what week they are in-person, at the beginning of the school year in 2020. Although they did not have a complete in-person year, extracurricular and sports were not put on hold.
“I think there was a real concern about mental health and well-being,” Mr. de Quesada said. The activities were not what they used to be because officials were following health guidelines, he said. “They were home for so long, engaged on screens. We did what we were able to do in extending after-school activities because it’s huge for their well-being.”
Belen Jesuit, grades 6 through 12, has seen more inquiries but is keeping the same number of students, 1,375.
Those at all three private schools said in-person learning is more beneficial to students than virtual.
“We believe that on-campus, in-person instruction is the best way to educate students.” Westminster Christian’s website says.
“In 2021-22 we are going to get as back to normalcy as possible while still keeping the students and faculty safe,” Ms. Acosta said.
“We’re aware that the pandemic isn’t necessarily over,” Mr. de Quesada said. “But we’re offering the students the very best in-person experience.”