Why it matters: The loss of private schools — about one-third in the U.S. are Catholic — could narrow the education market, especially in low-income and high-minority communities, federal estimates show.
What's happening: Most private schools heavily rely upon tuition and fundraising to keep them afloat. That community support was lost once events in the spring had to be canceled due to social distancing measures.
By the numbers: 60 private schools, 49 of them Catholic, have permanently closed since the pandemic, displacing more than 8,100 students; according to the CATO Institute Center for Educational Freedom.
- Struggling schools considering reopening are expect additional costs to adequately disinfect and monitor the health of students and teachers.
The big picture: Long-term enrollment declines already had dioceses closing or consolidating private schools in years past due to demographic changes, parents' inability to afford tuition and overall competition from neighboring schools, AP reports.
- The National Catholic Educational Association told the AP the number of Catholic school closures in recent weeks could be as high as 100.
- If public school districts are forced to absorb these students, CATO estimates an additional $125 million from their already squeezed budgets will be needed to educate them.
- Catholic school enrollment peaked in the 1960s, per government data, and during the Great Recession, 4,200 closed.
- The private schools that shuttered before the pandemic averaged nearly twice as many black and Hispanic students total compared to private elementary and secondary schools.
- Enrollment shrunk 18% or 382,044 students since 2010, according to the National Catholic Education Association, with elementary grades most affected.