Back to School: Some area private schools see more enrollment, transfer inquiries amid COVID-19

MIAMI VALLEY — Some private religious schools in the Miami Valley say they’re getting either more people asking about transferring into their school or seeing an increase in enrollment in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Carroll High School and Dayton Christian are two schools going back to class in-person this week.

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Carroll will have a staggered start to their year. Wednesday, Carroll freshman and transfer students will have their first day of class. Then, half the school comes back Thursday with the other half of the student body will start school Friday. Finally, the entire school starts class a week from today in person at Carroll on Monday, Aug. 24.

Dayton Christian will welcome back all their Pre-K to 12 students for the new school year this Wednesday, Aug. 19.

There are all kinds of measures in place at the two schools to protect students, teachers and staff. Things like one-way hallway and stairway traffic at Carroll, to social distance markers on the floors and plexiglass barriers at both schools to sanitizing stations and masks.

“We’re just going to promote self-responsibility as much as we can. Remind them if they want to stay in school and do their extracurricular activities that we’re all going to need to do our part,” said Matt Sableski, Carroll High School’s principal.

“(We have) Everything from signage on the floors to check in at a centralized point, to isolation rooms in the event someone might get COVID,” said Dr. John Gredy, Dayton Christian Head of School. “We have everything from wearing masks as required to social distancing.”

Dayton Christian told WHIO their enrollment will be up, “three to five percent” this school year. Mostly, Gredy says, because of Christian families who were “on the fence” about a religious education before the pandemic.

“I think because of the uncertainty in our country, it’s kind of a crisis for all of us as we’re navigating new territory. All of us together in our communities,” Gredy said. “I think this crisis in America’s going through right now really made Christian families really think about if they would prefer to have their students in a Christian school, Pre-K through 12 and so I think that’s what’s happened.”

Over at Carroll, the Catholic school says it’s gotten “a small number of folks” asking about transferring because they’re holding in-person classes.

“We have had a number of people say in the last month to month and a half who have inquired about transferring or coming in as freshman,” Sableski said. “We kind of take that on a case by case basis. We’re looking for families who want to be part of our community and maybe not just a stop-gap measure until their public school goes back to school.”

News Center 7 talked to one other Catholic school in southern Montgomery County on Monday that also said their enrollment numbers were up starting the new school year.

WHIO contacted the Archdiocese of Cincinnati to see whether that’s a trend for all Catholic schools in the Dayton-area. In an email, an archdiocese spokesperson said their schools department wants to “wait until they get a little further along with school enrollment numbers and registered students to make any comment or provide data.”

Even with an uncharted year ahead in the middle of a global pandemic, school leaders at Carroll High School and Dayton Christian said they’re anxious about getting back to class.

“We’re very excited to be back together as a community,” Sableski said.

“We’re excited about coming back – coming back together,” Gredy said. “It’s going to be great to see everyone.”