Avenues, the expensive private school based in Manhattan that was famously attended by Suri Cruise and counts the children of tycoons, rock stars, and Oscar-winners among its students, is setting up a 3,500-square-foot campus in the Hamptons to cater to children whose parents have fled the city for the salubrious comfort of their beachside homes in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The for-profit school, established in 2012 by a group of private investors, and which charges around $56,000 per annum, is reportedly seeking a space of some 3,500 square feet in East Hampton, New York, to operate as a new “studio” campus, the East Hampton Star reports. Fees for students attending the new Hamptons campus will be $48,000, less than the $56,400 charged at the Manhattan site, due partly to lack of extracurricular and sports activities. The campus is currently accepting students in fifth through 11th grades.
Avenues is also launching a new service called Avenues@HOME, which will offer five hours of in-home, in-person instruction for around $65,000 a year. The in-home service is being aimed at very young pupils, who can struggle with online learning.
School officials say they could hire between 75 and 100 teachers for the at-home option over the next several weeks as wealthy New Yorkers seek to optimize the privilege of their offspring.
“There are a number of families that have previously lived in the city and attended Avenues before relocating to the Hamptons,” Maggie Wollner, who will head the new campus, told the East Hampton Star. “They have been hoping to find a way for them to continue schooling with us.” The pandemic had caused many parents to consider spending “all or part of next school year” in the Hamptons, she added.
While all students at Avenues are given a Macbook and an iPad, children at schools in some of America’s poorest communities are falling further behind during the pandemic, with many children lacking regular, dedicated access to electronic devices for remote learning. In some parts of Detroit, where about 47 percent of children live in poverty, according to U.S. Census data, as few as 10 to 15 percent of students have internet-connected devices, it has been reported.
There are also many poor communities on the western end of Long Island, in towns such as Henderson, less than a hundred miles from the proposed site of the new Avenues campus, where 11 percent of the population lives below the poverty line.
David Deming, a professor of public policy at Harvard who studies how access to the internet affects inequality, told Technology Review that the current disruption may have a “permanent effect” on the poorer students. “We’re going to see a widening of educational inequality that will last a long time and won’t fade away,” he said.