The Archdiocese of New York announced Thursday that 20 of its Catholic schools will not reopen and three more will merge in the wake of the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic.
The archdiocese cited low registration for the fall semester brought on by health concerns and “financial devastation” suffered by families, along with the Church’s own financial straits due to months of cancelled public Masses and no weekly collections from the faithful.
“The coronavirus public health crisis has had a devastating financial impact on Catholic school families and the greater Archdiocese,” the statement reads. “Mass unemployment and continuing health concerns have resulted in families’ inability to pay their current tuition, and a significantly low rate of re-registration for the fall; while months of cancelled public masses and fundraising for scholarships have seen a loss of parish contributions which traditionally help support the schools.”
Commenting on the school closures, New York archbishop Cardinal Timothy Dolan expressed his regrets over the situation.
“Children are always the most innocent victims of any crisis, and this COVID-19 pandemic is no exception,” Cardinal Dolan said. “Too many have lost parents and grandparents to this insidious virus, and now thousands will not see their beloved school again.”
“I’ve kept a hopeful eye on our schools throughout this saga and my prayers are with all of the children and their families who will be affected by this sad news,” the cardinal continued. “Given the devastation of this pandemic, I’m grateful more schools didn’t meet this fate, and that Catholic schools nearby are ready to welcome all the kids.”
According to the archdiocese, the changes will impact approximately 2,500 students and 350 staff, while also ensuring the overall fiscal stability of New York Catholic schools.
“The reality of these schools being lost is painful, and it was only accepted reluctantly after a detailed study was conducted of their respective fiscal standing in the wake of the coronavirus public health crisis,” said Superintendent of Schools Michael J. Deegan.
Mr. Deegan warned that even more schools could close if more assistance is not forthcoming, referencing the Heroes Act presently before Congress.
“This is a very sad day for everyone in the extended Catholic school community,” Deegan said. “I send my love and prayers to the families, teachers, principals and staff of the affected schools.”