Families in St. Louis region switch from public to private schools during pandemic

By NewsRadio 1120 KMOX

ST. LOUIS, MO (KMOX) - With many public schools starting the year remotely, parents who work outside the home have had to make some agonizing decisions.

As you heard on KMOX last week, more families are turning to parochial schools during the pandemic.  The decision to change schools has many considerations for families, including the quality of education, social impacts, health risks, and financial committment.

Sarah Chandler says they couldn't imagine going to work and not being there full-time to help their 11 year old son Gage with virtual schooling. 

It was a challenging financial decision, one they had to make quickly when they learned their district would start classes online.  "We weren't able to access any school grants or any help with tuition, that's all strictly out of pocket."  Chandler says they're simply cutting back on other expenses because of the importance of their son's education.

She says they feel comfortable with the COVID safety measures in place -- adding the Catholic school they've chosen has gone above and beyond expectations.  Still, in the midst of a pandemic, there are no guarantees it will be able to stay open in coming weeks and months.  "His class size in Catholic school is 15, compared to the huge class size of 6th graders in public school.  So if by chance, if it happens that they do have to go all virtual, I do feel like he would just have more attention from the teacher."

The biggest struggle has been knowing this was a pivotal year for him, "He was moving into junior high with whole class, you know, I mean he was ready for it.  And then to switch him into school where he does not know a single person and then he's never been to Catholic school on top of that, it was really hard for him."  Chandler says the first day was tough, "I drove home crying just because I want what's best for him and I was hoping I had made the right decision for him and at that time, I just didn't know."

She says Gage is giving it all he's got and being very positive, "He is adapting so quickly and so it's just kind of solidifying that we did make the right decision."  Chandler says next year, if things are close to normal, they will give him the option of whether to go back to his Catholic school or return to his public school.


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