Switching Schools: When is It a Good Idea?

The pandemic has brought a host of changes to life as we know it, including to the way schools will run in the fall. For families on the fence about the upcoming school year, know you’re not alone. While there are many reasons for switching schools, the pandemic — and how your child’s school is responding — is most likely topping your list of concerns.

Read on for a preview at the changes students and parents might see when they head back to school this fall, factors to consider when switching schools — and whether that decision is worth the effort.

Why switch?

Bullying, academic boredom or a child who starts to fall in with the “wrong” crowd are all reasons for switching schools. Further complicating matters, COVID-19 is adding extra anxiety for families with school-aged children.

If you’d been thinking of making a change before the pandemic hit, switching from public to private schools could be a great solution, as many private schools offer lower class sizes and more creative learning options. Rich Wilson, head of The Summit Country Day School in Cincinnati, explains: “As an independent school, we are blessed with desirable class ratios, highly-trained faculty and an expansive physical plant. While this pandemic presents challenges, The Summit is in a strong position to respond and will do so in a manner that is consistent with our mission of education to include academic excellence, spiritual growth, character-based leadership and student wellness — both social-emotional and physical.”

Of course, before you make a change, talk to your child about why they are unhappy at their current school and consider how they will adjust to a new environment. If appropriate, talk to your child’s school or district candidly and find out what opportunities may exist within the current structure. There may be a program or school available that families have not considered, especially looking ahead to the upcoming academic year.

School during COVID-19

We’re living in extraordinary times, and frankly, it’s scary. Now for some good news: Right now, parents have an incredible chance to essentially customize their child’s education. If you’ve been unhappy with a particular aspect of school or have been considering switching schools, the 2020-21 school year presents an unprecedented opportunity.

In terms of switching to a different schooling structure, the upcoming academic year is full of options that may provide solutions to families looking for a change.

This fall, Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) will offer a “blended learning” model. For students returning in person, parents can expect fewer children in classes, new safety protocols and regular health checks for students and staff. CPS’s blended model splits students into two groups (a Monday/Tuesday in-person group and a Thursday/Friday in-person group) and will alternate attending in-person on Wednesdays. When not physically in school, students will utilize remote learning. This is all to maintain social distancing. The district will also offer a digital academy for families who aren’t ready to send the kids back.

This model is in line with most other area districts. For example, parents of children enrolled in Mason City Schools can opt to send their children to classrooms or move to a remote learning program when the school year begins.

Regardless of what parents choose, student safety will be the top priority, says Nancy Berlier, communications director at The Summit Country Day School. “Among the [safety] practices we will implement will be temperature checks on entry, face coverings, desks facing one direction and distanced, a narrowing of the scope of student contact with each other, elimination of large in-person events and screening of visitors on campus.”

The bottom line

Most schools are giving parents the final say in how to approach the upcoming school year — whether it’s continuing remote learning full-time, sending kids to school part-time, or some combination of approaches. Ultimately, the decision is up to you.

In terms of switching schools: You know your kids best. But adding an additional change on top of distance learning, for many kids, might be too much. With all the uncertainty right now, switching schools would certainly be another big adjustment. And if you’ve been thinking of switching schools, using this year as a time for home-based learning and figuring out your next step, might be the best choice.

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