At least 100 Catholic elementary and high schools across the United States will not reopen for the fall semester, with many suffering from low enrollment and decreased donations amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Most pandemic-related closures are of elementary schools. Some high schools, several of which have been open for decades, also are closing this summer.
Part of that uncertainty is on the part of the schools, many of which do not have the resources to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state guidelines on sanitizing and social distancing in classrooms.
Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles oversees the largest Catholic school system in the U.S., and wrote in a June 16 column that the nation’s Catholic schools play a vital role in helping minority and low-income families.
Gomez says about 80% of Catholic school students in LA come from minority families.
For elementary school students, the average yearly cost of attendance is about $5,936, while for high school students it is $15,249, NCEA says.
Los Angeles’ Catholic Education Foundation has granted more than $200 million in scholarships to 181,000 low-income students over the past 25 years, Gomez said.
In addition, he said, the LA Catholic school system has provided nearly half a million free meals to low-income students since the start of the pandemic.
The archbishop decried the fact that 37 states still have laws on the books, known as “Blaine Amendments,” which prohibit government funding to “sectarian” schools— a 19th-century euphemism for Catholic schools, according to opponents of the laws.
Full story at Catholic News Agency.