Scott Anderson was living in Brooklyn with his wife and two children when the coronavirus hit, closing all of the city’s schools and sending his children into the netherworld of online education.
The family moved to its weekend house in Dutchess County, N.Y. The children, one a freshman and the other a sophomore at an independent school in Brooklyn where they had been since prekindergarten, were unhappy with their online classes. Their parents, meanwhile, were paying an annual tuition of over $50,000 for each.
“This is the time for them to strike out and explore things,” Mr. Anderson said. “Their school was completely unprepared for this style of teaching and for engaging a class.”
As the summer wore on, the Andersons decided to enroll their children in a boarding school, the Frederick Gunn School in Washington, Conn., 45 minutes from their weekend house.
In making a change they had never contemplated before the pandemic, they joined a surge of affluent parents who have upended their plans in order to get their children into independent schools holding in-person classes for the fall. It didn’t come cheap — the Frederick Gunn School costs $66,523 for boarding students — but in-person learning was not going to be possible at many public schools and even at well-regarded day schools in big cities hit hard in the pandemic.
“Applications are up, and enrollment is up,” said Carole J. Everett, executive director of the New Jersey Association of Independent Schools. “This is largely due to people fleeing the city and public school parents disappointed that their schools haven’t opened in person.