More than 100 Catholic schools in the United States are expected to close this year, largely due to financial challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic recession. Source: Crux.
By Dennis Sadowski, CNS via Crux
“Nearly every diocese probably is facing a closure. While we don’t have it in stone, we think the closures as we speak are 100 to 150 schools,” Mary Pat Donoghue, executive director of the Secretariat of Catholic Education at the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, said last week.
Presentation Sr Dale McDonald, director of public policy and educational research at the National Catholic Educational Association, said information collected by her organisation point to the same number of school closures.
Margaret Kaplow, public relations manager at NCEA, said the association had compiled information showing that at least 97 schools are closing. The number is based on official announcements, media reports and conversations NCEA officials have had with diocesan school superintendents, she said.
Education leaders expect more announcements of closures in the coming weeks as parents who have lost jobs under the shutdown of large portions of the economy because of the pandemic decide they can no longer afford Catholic school tuition.
“A lot of people (in education) are holding their breath that families may not be able to swing it or choose not to swing it in a time of uncertainty,” Ms Donoghue told CNS.
The NCEA’s annual statistical report of Catholic elementary and secondary schools for 2019-2020 showed there were 6,183 schools with 98 schools consolidated or closed. Enrolment for the academic year stood at more than 1.7 million.
The focus of the USCCB Catholic education secretariat and NCEA is on keeping schools open.
“For the parishes, the loss of a school is the loss of vitality. This is a huge concern especially as the nation goes through so much upheaval as it goes through the pandemic and the killing of George Floyd,” Ms Donoghue said.