Private schools seeing increased enrollment amid pandemic

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Administrators said some parents are pulling their kids from public schools and are applying to send them to Grand Rapids Christian Schools.

Tom DeJonge, superintendent of Grand Rapids Christian Schools, said they like that the district offers in-person learning. This week, Grand Rapids Public Schools announced the first nine weeks of school will be held virtually.

“At the high school, in particular, there were about 15-20 applications for admissions that they’re processing right now,” DeJonge said.

Educators said that is about the same number of applications for Grand Rapids Christian Schools elementary students and that staff are processing around 10 to 15 of them for middle school students.

“This is a safe place, and we are following and honoring all of the governor’s, health department’s and CDC’s guidelines,” DeJonge said.

A spokesperson for the Diocese of Grand Rapids Catholic Schools said the district is also processing new student applications for kids looking to benefit from in-person learning.

Officials say they won’t identify the exact number of those students out of respect for their relationship with Grand Rapids Public Schools.

Meanwhile, Ellen Kieras is continuing to pay for her kids to receive an in-person education at both Saint Thomas the Apostle Catholic School and West Catholic High School.

“I prefer in-person,” said Kieras. “Especially as young human beings, they need that social interaction.”

Kieras said Grand Rapids Catholic Schools also provides the option to learn virtually, and just as any other parent, she looks to administrators for guidance.

“Looking forward to greeting a lot of new kids this fall,” DeJonge said.

DeJonge said he plans to send out a final plan next week that illustrates how teachers will best protect their students amidst the coronavirus pandemic.