Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent Gregory Hutchings pulled one of his children out of his school system—which is conducting classes remotely due to the coronavirus pandemic—and enrolled her in a private school that has in-person teaching.
Hutchings's daughter is now enrolled at Bishop Ireton, a Catholic high school in Alexandria, Va., where students learn in person two days each week. This comes after months of the coronavirus pandemic, which has forced some parents to balance working from home with helping their school-age children with virtual learning.
Hutchings said his family's decision to enroll his daughter in a private school didn’t undermine his "commitment to public education" but rather was a "very personal" choice.
"Decisions like these are very personal family decisions and are not taken lightly," Hutchings said in a statement. "This in no way impacts my absolute lifelong commitment to public education, to which I remain as personally dedicated as ever."
Hutchings led conversations with other school officials this summer to decide whether the district would resume classes in person or online. The superintendent previously said the district decided to conduct class remotely in part due to issues with school buses as health regulations drastically limit their capacity.
Tuition at Bishop Ireton is $16,700 per year for Catholic families and $21,100 for non-Catholics. To maintain social distancing, half of the school's 784 students attend in-person instruction for two consecutive days, followed by the other half of the student body for the next two days. When not in class, students are required to log in to virtual classes. Bishop Ireton has just a fraction of the student population of Alexandria's public high school, T.C. Williams, which has more than 4,000 enrolled students.
After schools across the country closed this spring following the coronavirus pandemic outbreak, school administrators and state governments this summer grappled with plans to reopen schools this fall. Though schools in Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, and Texas were ordered to open, school districts in most other states were allowed the flexibility to design their reopening procedures with input from health officials.