EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Private schools across Rhode Island are receiving more applications than ever as parents seek out learning options that best suit their children’s needs.

Dr. David Greenhalgh, head of school at West Bay Christian Academy, tells 12 News the uncertainty surrounding virtual and in-person learning in school districts across the state is mostly likely what’s driving parents to look elsewhere.

“I think every family is asking, ‘Is this working for our kids?'” Greenhalgh said.

Greenhalgh said this year, West Bay has 57 new students, which is a significant increase from years past.

St. Mary Academy at Bay View has also seen an uptick in enrollment and is currently at near capacity, according to Director of Admissions Monica Rangel.

Rangel said Bay View saw enrollment applications increase by 600% this past summer.

“With many public schools limited to virtual education, families who haven’t previously considered private schools are looking at other alternatives for their children,” Bay View President Sister Marybeth Beretta said. “Our decision to offer in-person, virtual and hybrid educational options this year has certainly contributed to an increase in new applications over the past month.” 

Greenhalgh said private schools have much more to offer than public schools, and parents will never have to worry about overcrowded classrooms.

“A class size of 14 and a teacher makes 15,” Greenhalgh said. “We had at least one class that filled up and we created another class, another section, and it filled up.”

“It is our responsibility to keep our students engaged, on track and learning deeply,” Mary Ann Snider, vice principal of academics and curriculum at Bay View said. “Our plan attends to the whole student. We learned much from our transition to online learning this spring. We finished the year strong, and we are bringing those lessons into the year ahead of us.”

Snider and Greenhalgh tell 12 News both of their schools are offering in-person and virtual learning options for students and they expect enrollment numbers to increase as the year progresses.