Coronavirus News: 26 Catholic schools in NYC will not reopen in wake of pandemic

COVID-19 News and Information
NEW YORK (WABC) -- Following months of canceled Masses, 26 Catholic schools will not reopen in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the Archdiocese of New York and Diocese of Brooklyn announced Thursday.

The Archdiocese of New York said in a statement that the pandemic has had a devastating financial impact on both its parishioners and the Archdiocese itself.

"Children are always the most innocent victims of any crisis, and this COVID-19 pandemic is no exception," Archbishop Timothy 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. 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."

The following Catholic schools in the New York Archiocese will not reopen:
--Corpus Christi School, Manhattan
--Divine Mercy School, New Windsor
--Holy Family School, New Rochelle
--Nativity of Our Blessed Lady School, Bronx
--Our Lady of Mt. Carmel-St. Benedicta School, Staten Island
--Our Lady of Perpetual Help School, Pelham Manor
--Our Lady of Pompeii School, Manhattan
--Our Lady of the Assumption School, Bronx
--Sacred Heart School, Suffern
--St. Ann School, Yonkers
--St. Elizabeth Ann Seton School, Shrub Oak
--St. John's School, Kingsbridge, Bronx
--St. Joseph-St. Thomas School, Staten Island
--St. Luke School, Bronx
--St. Patrick School, Bedford
--St. Paul School, Yonkers
--St. Peter School, Poughkeepsie
--Sts. Peter & Paul School, Staten Island
--Sts. Philip & James School, Bronx
--St. Thomas Aquinas School, Bronx

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Meanwhile, St. John School in Goshen will welcome the school communities of Sacred Heart School in Monroe and St. Stephen-St. Edward School in Warwick to its campus.

In the Diocese of Brooklyn, the following schools will not reopen:
--Queen of the Rosary in Williamsburg, Brooklyn
--St. Gregory the Great in Crown Heights/Flatbush, Brooklyn
--Our Lady's Catholic Academy in South Ozone Park, Queens
--Our Lady of Grace in Howard Beach, Queens
--Holy Trinity Catholic Academy in Whitestone, Queens
--St. Mel's Catholic Academy in Whitestone, Queens

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Brooklyn officials say that collectively, these schools have seen a decline of enrollment over the last five years, but the registration totals for the upcoming school year are down significantly, largely due to the massive unemployment and loss of business that has resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic.

More than $630,000 in tuition bills for the past school year (2019-2020) remains outstanding at these schools.

"This is an incredibly sad day for our Catholic community to have to close these schools, but the devastation caused by the coronavirus pandemic is insurmountable," Superintendent of Schools Thomas Chadzutko, Ed.D. said. "The difficult decisions come after the intense analysis of the financial picture of each academy."

To help the transition, the Diocese of Brooklyn, through the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Trust, will provide a one-time $500 financial grant for each child from a closed school enrolling and attending in a new Catholic elementary academy or school in Brooklyn or Queens this fall, as long as they have met all of their financial obligations. For those who meet the financial eligibility, tuition assistance is available through Futures in Education.

The Archdiocese of New York said 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.

Additionally, months of canceled public masses and fundraising for scholarships have seen a loss of parish contributions that traditionally help support the 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," Superintendent of Schools Michael Deegansaid said. "I have been a Catholic school educator for more than 40 years, and could never have imagined the grave impact this pandemic has had on our schools. If more assistance is not forthcoming in the longed for HEROES Act now before Congress, I am afraid even more might close. This is a very sad day for everyone in the extended Catholic school community. I send my love and prayers to the families, teachers, principals and staff of the affected schools."

The Archdiocese expects the changes to impact approximately 2,500 students and 350 staff.

The Office of the Superintendent of Schools says it will work closely with each affected family and faculty, to help find a neighboring Catholic school for the fall.

Families can visit CatholicSchoolsNY.org/announcements for more information.

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