Some private schools in western Massachusetts say the uncertainty over how public schools will operate this fall has led to a significant jump in inquiries from prospective parents.
Most Massachusetts public school districts are still figuring out their plans, and are considering in-person learning, remote learning and a mix of the two.
Wilbraham and Monson Academy in Wilbraham, Massachusetts, has announced it will be open five days a week for in-person instruction. Admissions director Kate Gaw said that’s driving interest.
"The late spring to summer inquiries have increased by 60% this year, which is crazy," she said. "Parents are concerned about their public school options, mainly because the districts have yet to put the plans -- or a lot of districts -- and there's uncertainty."
Gaw said they still have some financial aid available but acknowledged the school is not affordable for everyone.
The Hartsbrook School in Hadley, Massachusetts, has also seen a significant increase in interest. It plans to offer four days a week of in-person instruction and a day of remote learning in grades one through 12.
The school's admissions director, Leslie Evans, said part of the appeal is that all classes will be held outdoors this fall.
"One of the main things that I’ve heard is that people are worried to go back to a public school environment because it is such an enclosed space and that, to them, creates some fear," she said.
Evans said Hartsbrook will be upgrading its air filtration systems so more learning can move indoors in the winter.
Massachusetts public schools have until the end of July to submit their preliminary reopening plans to the state.