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Switching Schools: When is It a Good Idea?

The pandemic has brought a host of changes to life as we know it, including to the way schools will run in the fall. For families on the fence about the upcoming school year, know you’re not alone. While there are many reasons for switching schools, the pandemic — and how your child’s school is responding — is most likely topping your list of concerns. 

Read on for a preview at the changes students and parents might see when they head back to school this fall, factors to consider when switching schools — and whether that decision is worth the effort.

Why switch?

Bullying, academic boredom or a child who starts to fall in with the “wrong” crowd are all reasons for switching schools. Further complicating matters, COVID-19 is adding extra anxiety in an uneasy time for families with school-aged children. “It’s important in this climate to have options,” says Kyle Beauchamp, chief academic officer at Paramount Schools of Excellence in Indianapolis. “When deciding on the best options for their child, parents might want to consider how flexible their current school is. This pandemic has been, and continues to be, unpredictable.”

If you’d been thinking of making a change before the pandemic hit, switching from public to private schools is an option worth exploring, as many private schools offer lower class sizes and more creative learning options.

Of course, before you make a change, talk to your child about why they are unhappy at their current school and consider how they will adjust to a new environment. If appropriate, talk to your child’s school or district candidly and find out what opportunities may exist within the current structure. There may be a program or school available that families have not considered, especially looking ahead to the upcoming academic year.

School during COVID-19

We’re living in extraordinary times, and frankly, it’s scary. Now for some good news: Right now, parents have an incredible chance to essentially customize their child’s education. If you’ve been unhappy with a particular aspect of school or have been considering switching schools, the 2020-21 school year presents an unprecedented opportunity.

In terms of switching to a different schooling structure, the upcoming academic year is full of options that may provide solutions to families looking for a change.

At the time this article was written, Indiana State and local leaders had just announced plans for the 2020-21 academic year. Under this plan, school districts across the state will reopen this fall with in-person instruction and virtual instruction for students who are uncomfortable or unable to return to classrooms. This seems to be the model most area schools are adopting.

Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) the state’s largest district, is letting parents choose between in-person and remote learning. For students returning in person, there will be smaller class sizes and a variety of new safety protocols. For families opting to continue remote learning, a full-time e-learning option will be available. 

For parents on the fence about whether to send their kids, some schools, like Paramount, are offering families yet another option: “opt-in” flexibility. “It’s really about meeting families where they are, and providing a high-quality experience no matter what,” Beauchamp says.

The bottom line

Most schools are giving parents the final say in how to approach the upcoming school year — whether it’s continuing remote learning full-time, sending kids to school part-time or some combination of both.

In terms of switching schools: adding an additional change on top of distance/part-time learning, for many kids, might be too much. With all the uncertainty right now, switching schools would be another big adjustment. And if you’ve been thinking of switching schools, using this year as a time for home-based learning and figuring out your next step, might be the best choice.

Ultimately, the decision is up to you. “While everyone is different, the common denominator is that parents want a school where their child can grow academically, socially and emotionally in a safe environment,” Beauchamp says. “It’s about meeting families where they are at and providing a high-quality experience no matter what.”

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