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Does Covid19 Mark the End of Boarding School? Rethinking the Education of Our Children in an Era of Social Distancing

Boarding schools are no longer safe or practical

It is time that parents quit boarding schools altogether because they are no longer safe learning spaces for our children. When COVID19 started destroying the world, parents never imagined the full impact of this pandemic. The notion of a respiratory disease clearing the likes of London and New York seemed unimaginable a few years back. Now it is the reality. Thousands have died and many more are sick.

Recovering from COVID19 Lockdowns

Thankfully the death toll and infection rates are falling, at least in the developed world. Indeed, there are already positive noises coming from governments that schools might open soon. One particular type of school may be running out of time though. I am speaking of the boarding school, a staple for the wealthy, connected, or alternatively aspiring. A recent market watch report indicated that enrollment into boarding schools within the UK had fallen by up to 20%.

Boarding schools once had a great reputation

There was a time when boarding schools had a reputation for very high standards in terms of academic achievement and connections for later in life. They were expensive, but worth all the trouble. I dare say that some parents were even secretly relieved to get some respite from raising unruly children. The idea of someone else helping you deal with your wayward teenager seems too good to miss.

Problems with boarding schools

Of course there were problems. We have all heard of the bullying, assaults, and emotional messes that these schools could and did eventually create. Besides, some parents were ashamed at not spending more time with their children. After all, the psychologists and child development experts had been telling us that the parent is the best teacher. Indeed, it would appear that there emerged a boarding school culture that was totally devoid of parental attention and care. Needless to say, boarding schools have produced some real disturbing cases.

Revisiting homeschooling as an option

By contrast, the home schooling community was the poor relation of the family. Anyone that did not attend a conventional school was laughed at. Somehow their education was not valid. They were stereotyped as being under-baked and lacking in the kind of social skills that would allow them to lead healthy lives in the real world. There were running jokes about "home school graduates" making blunder after blunder in public life.

COVID19 gave the home schooling community a new lease of life. Suddenly the government was encouraging people to stay at home. Conventional teachers were running out of options and some started to teach online. It was no longer the butt of jokes to teach your children at home. At the same time, boarding schools were facing their worst nightmare. There are very good reasons why people are beginning to shun boarding schools.

Keeping your child safe after COVID19

It is not an exaggeration to suggest that boarding schools are an ideal breeding ground for all sorts of germs. Packing a bunch of children from different places into one unit is not really good social distancing practice. With COVID 19, the stakes are even higher. One wrong choice and your child could end up on an ICU unit. In any case, during lockdown boarding school was simply forbidden. No matter how much money one had, it was no longer possible to send the children to a boarding school.

Boarding schools are not the answer

It is tempting to think about going back to boarding schools now that everything might open up soon. The reality is that the age of the boarding school is over. Who would want to send their children to a petri-dish of diseases, and possibly the deadly COVID19 virus? It is far better to spend time with your children. If there are no other realistic options, you might send them to a day school. Certainly, you would not want to send them away for months...not knowing what is happening to them.

Besides the safety concerns, boarding schools are just so expensive. The going rate for some of them is $50,000 per term. That works out at about $100,000 or even $150,000 per year. That money could be better spent on a high quality education for your children at home or even in a day school. Maybe it is time to call it a day on boarding schools.


Parents are shunning boarding schools after the pandemic

Falling enrollments in UK boarding schools in the post-COVID19 era

Falling enrollments in UK boarding schools in the post-COVID19 era

Has COVID19 made it more or less likely to enroll your child in boarding school?

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