BOSTON (AP) — Catholic church officials say nearly a dozen Catholic schools have closed in Massachusetts this year and more could shutter as the economic toll of the coronavirus pandemic mounts.
The Boston Herald reports among the recently announced closures are schools in Chelsea, Boston, Braintree, Holbrook, Lowell, Kingston, Marlborough, Methuen, Weymouth, Winchester, have permanently closed.
Thomas Carroll, school superintendent for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, tells the newspaper that it's already the largest number of closures the region has seen in almost 50 years.
Catholic schools nationwide have been dealing with declining enrollment and financial challenges for years, but it's been exacerbated by the pandemic. Some 140 schools across the country have so far closed this year.
Carroll estimated school enrollment in the Boston archdiocese is down 7% from March, when Massachusetts and other states enacted widespread economic closures and social restrictions to control the pandemic.
He said more school closures could come in September and October as families opt to cut private education costs during the economic uncertainty. Massachusetts has among the highest rates of unemployment in the nation.
“This is a pretty extraordinary moment for the archdiocese," Carroll told the Herald.
Roughly 32,000 students attend nearly 100 Catholic schools within the archdiocese, the newspaper reports.