May 27, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Rise in Some Schools’ Enrollment Highlights NYC Pandemic Effects

While some yeshivot have lost students, perhaps due to the popularity of pandemic homeschooling, increased unemployment necessitating that families send to public schools or other factors such as this year’s aliyah surge, several schools in Bergen County have seen notable jumps in their enrollments for the school year. One head of school said he believed most of the children entering the Bergen County yeshiva system this year are from Manhattan; others have noted an influx from Brooklyn.

Yavneh Academy’s Head of School Rabbi Jonathan Knapp shared his take on this phenomenon. “I think Bergen County as a whole is experiencing an influx of young families who are vacating the city. It seems that many of these families would have ended up in Bergen County down the road. But the pandemic has accelerated the process.”

Most schools have a number of transfers in any given year, but the pandemic has contributed to a rise in that number for some area schools, such as Yavneh which is accepting 30 new students. For Rabbi Knapp, “Some of the most poignant moments have been Yavneh alumni who have returned to Bergen County and enrolled [their children] in Yavneh for the coming year.”

Moriah’s board reported the school is welcoming almost 90 new students into the school from 42 families. Moriah’s Head of School Rabbi Daniel Alter said, “There would have been more if people had found housing—and there still might be more in the next few days. We’ve seen larger enrollment in recent years than in the past, but not at this level.”

In the rush to vacate New York City during COVID-19, some families have moved in with grandparents in Bergen County and many are still in the process of securing lodging for the coming year—whether still looking for houses or waiting for homes they purchased to be ready. “So much of what’s attractive about the city, like the culture and parks and accessibility, is just not available right now and it’s unclear when it will be,” said Rabbi Knapp.

Another factor for schools has been the pace of reopening. As more local municipalities announce they will be only operating in an online format to start the year, some families who attend public school are looking to switch in to yeshivot—even at this late date—because they want their children to have access to in person learning.

Sharona Grossberg of Ben Porat Yosef notes the school has had a similar experience, “We have had many new families relocating—many from Brooklyn and Manhattan. Forty four percent of our applications have been since May. Also, new students whose schools decided not to open for 2020-2021 [in person] have attributed to our surge.”

JKHA/RKYHS has seen a marked increase in interest in the school from families looking to relocate, as well as from local communities, and is set to welcome close to 100 new students this year. Kushner is one of many area schools who is taking advantage of its campus and providing unique outdoor learning and recreation opportunities, in addition to indoor classrooms.

Tenafly Chabad Academy Head of School Stacy Katzwer told The Jewish Link, “Enrollment has exploded in the past month. In the past two to three weeks, we’ve gotten 10 new families which is a pretty significant portion for our small school. [We’ve had people call and say] ‘We live in Manhattan, Brooklyn etc…and decided to move two weeks ago and we need a school.’ Add to that families who are in towns where public schools are going remote are also trying to get into our schools because we’re opening in person.”

Katzwer continued, “Because we’re a Chabad school, it’s part of our mission to accept these children who are coming from public schools.”

Not all schools had responded by press time, but this influx of students to the area has schools hurrying to accommodate them by hiring extra teachers and ordering more materials so they can be ready when school opens next week—in person.

By Michal Rosenberg

 

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