Big-city residents are concerned about their post-pandemic future and for some, it is time to leave for good.
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Tight living spaces, dense populations, and crowded public transit systems have urbanites wondering if the lifestyle they have known for so long will be right for them, as well as for their children in the coming years.
Accordingly, school districts and private schools in suburban and rural areas are reporting a bump in inquiries about enrolling children in the fall.
“As of today, 20 people have enrolled at Ross from schools in the city,” said Andi O’Hearn, the head of advancement at Ross School, a private K-12 school located in East Hampton, N.Y. Not including boarding, Ross’ annual tuition costs range from $22,700 to $45,000.
“It’s also very sad for me that these families have to completely uproot and move to the Hamptons,” O’Hearn explained. “We do worry about the schools in the city, too. This is a really tough decision for these families to make.”
In New York City, parents are worried that schools may not restart as normal come September.
“We’re looking at staggered schedules, half days and potently hybrid situations where students stay home,” says early childhood and education expert Karen Aronian.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, speaking at a news briefing on Thursday, said schools should prepare for a fall reopening, but the state government does not “want to make that decision [to reopen schools] until [they] have more facts.”
One parent told FOX Business that they do not want to pay $55,000 for New York City private school tuition, especially if classes remain online or if schedules are staggered. For the time being, they are looking at other schools outside of the city and even arranged a virtual school tour via Zoom. Without near-term prospects of a COVID-19 vaccine, they said New York City is not a safe option for their child.
Administrators say they have seen an uptick like this before, following 9/11.
“We did see the same sort of influx for about six or seven years at that point,” O’Hearn said. “But they gradually went back into the city.”
It is not clear yet if Manhattanites will pull the plug and leave the city permanently amid the coronavirus outbreak, but many are taking the first steps.
“This time when I’m talking to families, they are not saying they are coming to live out here forever,” said O’Hearn. “They are hoping they can go back in a year or two.”