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Private school demand on the rise during pandemic

Private schools popularity on the rise during pandemic
Oliver Forster

GOLETA, Calif. -A waiver helped Montessori Center School open during the pandemic for first through sixth graders in October.

The Goleta campus opened to pre-school kids in August.

Head of School Melanie Jacobs said they spent a good amount of money making it meet safety standards to prevent the spread of COVID19.

They bought air purifiers, PPE and outdoor equipment to allow learning to take place outdoors.

They also hired more teachers and excepted fewer students.

Jacobs said they have a waiting list and have seen a renewed interest from parents who used to send their children to public schools.

"Look at this beautiful campus and all of the outdoors. The students have been very flexible, my staff and teachers have learned to be flexible and have worked really hard to provide the best education they can for students during a difficult time. So we have developed as people and our students have developed, so certainly there's positives to everything," said Jacobs.

During past economic downturns private schools nationwide saw a decline in enrollment, but during the pandemic private schools have allowed some parents to focus on their own work.

The Montessori is a nonprofit and counts on fundraisers. This year the school is hosting an online auction in April to cover some of the safety expenses.

Boarding schools are also seeing an increase in applications.

Charlotte Brownlee, the Assistant Head of School for External Affairs at Cate School in Montecito, said they have been doing outdoor classes all year and it seems to be working.

"We actually created 27 outdoor classrooms this year so we have been holding all of our classes in-person but outdoors, so we will continue that through the rest of the year, and potentially into the Fall if we have to," said Brownlee.

She said they hope to resume tours for potential students soon. They will send out acceptance letters on March 10.

"We always have a waiting list, but this year we did see a pretty significant increase in the number of applications."

Many private schools offer financial aid and day school options.

"We are kind of excited that boarding schools are becoming generally more popular, so I would want people to know to that there's a number of wonderful boarding school options all around Santa Barbara and Ventura County."

She said people are really rethinking education during the pandemic.

"We feel so grateful that we were able to have in-person school this Fall, that was really just a gift, and we feel very lucky that we were able to pull that off."

For more information about Cate School visit

For more information about Montessori Center School visit

Coronavirus / Health / Local Politics / Money and Business / Santa Barbara - South County
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Tracy Lehr

Tracy Lehr is a reporter and the weekend anchor of NewsChannel 3-12. To learn more about Tracy, click here

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