By Janis Fontaine
Our community has dozens of options for private school education, with some tuitions topping $40,000 a year. But the schools offer scholarships and financial aid.
Rigorous COVID-19 policies and procedures are in place at all schools, making them some of the safest environments for students: increased availability of hand sanitizer and sanitizing stations, mask requirements, less mobility and mixing of students, and the use of small pods, temperature checks and health screenings.
About 1,300 students attend Saint Andrew’s School, a nonprofit, independent private day and boarding school for grades pre-K through 12 in Boca Raton.
Alexandra Tolischus, the director of enrollment, said that both boarding students and day students continue to attend programs. “We have health and safety protocols in place and a large enough campus which allows us to maintain physical distancing guidelines.”
She says schools must remain flexible in the face of the unpredictable coronavirus.
“We continue to work hard, consult with experts, check in with peer schools, and make continuous improvements to our health and safety protocols,” Tolischus said. “We make decisions based on that, and are constantly evaluating the situation.”
St. Joseph’s Episcopal School on Seacrest Boulevard in Boynton Beach educates just under 200 students in grades K-8. Many classes are full, but the school is accepting applications, said Mary Aperavich, director of admissions.
“Approximately 3% of our students are still attending class remotely. We are now on our 14th week offering live classes to our students,” she said in mid-November.
The children still pray and say the Pledge of Allegiance each morning over the PA system, but aren’t allowed to gather in the chapel for prayer or song. Although COVID-19 is unpredictable and the infection trends are frightening, St. Joseph’s plans to continue with its current plan after Christmas break. Of course, nothing, save the Ten Commandments, is engraved in stone.
At the Waldorf School of Palm Beach, formerly Sea Star Initiative, enrollment is about 40 students, with room for twice that many, administrative director Wendy Gittleman said.
Waldorf is a private school for grades 1-8 in Boca Raton that follows the structure, philosophies and curriculum established by Austrian educator Rudolf Steiner. It emphasizes the role of the imagination in learning, and teachers use art, music and expressive movement to enhance teaching.
The school reopened for in-person classes on Sept. 8.
“It’s been wonderful to get back to school,” Gittleman said. “Each of our classrooms have their own bathrooms, sanitation stations and outside entrances.”
The most exciting development is a move to outdoor classrooms, says Gittleman, who recently joined the school after a 20-year career in California. Pods of students will learn outside under shelter, another way Waldorf is “childhood friendly.”
Gittleman says the kids have adjusted more easily than the adults to the coronavirus and calls the transition “pretty smooth.”
Barring out-of-control infection rates, Waldorf plans to continue in-person learning and welcomes applicants looking for an alternative.