Private religious schools in North Texas to hold in-person classes while districts teach online

While most of the large public school districts in North Texas have announced plans to delay the start of on-campus instruction, some large private schools, as well as the Catholic Diocese of Dallas and Fort Worth, are moving forward with plans to have students back at school this fall.

Since private religious schools in Texas are exempt from orders to close on-campus instruction, many are now announcing reopening plans. They do point out they benefit from smaller class sizes than what is typical in public schools.

Prestonwood Christian Academy is already testing out in-person school protocols with a summer class.

When the fall begins at PCA on Aug. 19, teachers will wear face shields while teaching, and middle and high school students will wear masks.

“A lot of factors were considered in deciding when or whether to reopen,” said PCA Interim Head of School John Klingstedt. “The biggest was that students need to be in the classroom.”

Klingstedt says the benefits of educating kids in classrooms is too important to put on hold any longer.

“Education is important because brain development, experts tell us there are certain stages,” he said. “If you miss, you can’t go back reading comprehension for lower grade students. You can’t go back and regain those skills. Being in a class is so important. We just have to do it in a safe way.”

Students can still log into their class remotely at any time during the semester, allowing students to quarantine if necessary.

While desks used to be close together for small group discussions, desks are now spaced out.

Klingstedt says every teacher is planning to come back to the classroom, and they are planning to hire more teachers to accommodate even smaller class sizes.

Citing the benefit of smaller class sizes compared with public schools, the Catholic Diocese of Dallas announced plans on Wednesday to reopen in-person instruction this fall. Their schools in Dallas County will reopen on Sept. 2, ahead of the Dallas County order prohibiting public schools from reopening.

Similarly, a spokesman for the Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth said medical experts have signed off on their reopening plans for mid-August for their 19 schools.

“They feel being in a classroom is important for their child,” said spokesperson Pat Svacina.

PCA also has two sister campuses: St. Timothy Christian Academy for students with learning differences, and the King's Academy in Southern Dallas. Both schools are planning to reopen their campuses with many adjustments for safety.