In New York, the stakes of getting one’s child into private school seem to be so high that not long ago a couple reportedly enlisted the Dalai Lama to write a letter of recommendation. So, what happens when the raisons d’être of elite prep schools—the in-person networking with future Masters of the Universe, the small classes and personalized attention, the swimming pools, the squash courts (Spence is planning to build nine of them in their new recreational facility), and the state-of-the-art science labs—suddenly disappear?

Among the many seismic societal changes that the coronavirus has wrought is the total disruption of the American educational system. And for a certain group of well-heeled New York City parents who have the incredibly good fortune of health, safety, and large country estates, the question is “Why am I paying $50,000 a year for mediocre Zoom classes that I have to supervise?”