July 9, 2020 By Allie Griffin
Four Catholic schools in Queens will not reopen in the fall due to the financial strain spurred by the coronavirus pandemic.
Our Lady’s Catholic Academy in South Ozone Park, Our Lady of Grace in Howard Beach, Holy Trinity Catholic Academy in Whitestone and St. Mel’s Catholic Academy in Whitestone will all permanently close on Aug. 31, the Diocese of Brooklyn–which also covers Queens–announced today.
Two Brooklyn schools — Queen of the Rosary in Williamsburg and St. Gregory the Great in Crown Heights — will also shutter.
The six schools have seen enrollment decline over the past five years, the diocese said, and the COVID-19 pandemic delivered a final blow to each. Many parents are now struggling to pay fees following the economic shutdown.
“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,” said Thomas Chadzutko, Ed.D., Superintendent of Schools. “The difficult decisions come after the intense analysis of the financial picture of each academy.”
Registration for the upcoming school year was down significantly at each Catholic school.
Parents — some facing unemployment or business loss due to the citywide shutdown — cannot afford tuition during these difficult times. Many parents are behind in paying tuition. For instance, among the six schools, $630,000 is owed by parents from this past school year.
Council Member Paul Vallone, who represents Whitestone and neighboring areas, said he was disappointed to learn that both Holy Trinity Catholic Academy and St. Mel’s Catholic Academy will close.
“I am concerned to see educational options reduced during such challenging times for our borough and our city, which already suffered from overcrowded schools,” Vallone said in a statement. “I know the loss of both of these local Catholic Academies, which have each taught generations of Northeast Queens families, will be deeply felt in our community.”
The Diocese will help students of the six schools transfer to nearby Catholic academies if they choose.
Online information meetings for parents from the six schools will begin next week. Staffers from neighboring Catholic schools will present their programs and answer questions.
Each affected student will receive a $500 grant when they enroll at another Catholic school in Brooklyn or Queens this fall, as long as their family has met all of their financial obligations.
Tuition assistance is also available for those in need at Futures in Education.
The Archdiocese of New York, which covers Manhattan, Staten Island and the Bronx, as well as upstate counties, also saw a heavy toll from the pandemic and resulting economic crisis.
The Archdiocese announced today that 20 of its Catholic schools will shutter — including 11 across Manhattan, Staten Island and the Bronx.