Catholic Schools See Enrollment Increase During COVID-19 Pandemic
While Catholic schools across the country saw their enrollment numbers drop on average last year during the COVID-19 pandemic, most of York County’s Catholic schools have seen their enrollment rise or remain stable throughout the year.
Daniel Breen, superintendent of Catholic schools for the Diocese of Harrisburg, said the five Catholic schools in York County have seen an overall increase in enrollment over the past year. Enrollment has increased at the 36 schools in the diocese, he said, which spans 15 counties.
Not only has enrollment increased during the pandemic, but Breen said enrollment in diocese projects will continue to increase by about 4% in Catholic schools in York County over the next school year.
This goes against a national trend of declining enrollment in American Catholic schools. Enrollment fell 6.4%, or more than 111,000 students, in nearly 6,000 Catholic schools nationwide in the 2020-21 school year, according to an Associated Press report. In addition, more than 200 Catholic schools closed permanently last year.
While officials from several local Catholic schools have confirmed that their schools have lost students during the pandemic, most schools have seen their enrollment numbers remain stable.
York Catholic High School spokeswoman Lori Keith said high school enrollment has remained stable at 550 over the past three years. St. Joseph School saw its enrollment drop from about 30 students to a total of 249 in the 2020-21 school year, but Director of Development Kristy Baker said their enrollment for 2021-22 was already over. feedback to 266 students.
At Holy Trinity Catholic School, Marketing and Development Director Nicole Nirosky said their school lost students during the pandemic, but had even more thanks to parents who transferred their students from schools public. Before the pandemic, Nirosky said the total enrollment at Holy Trinity stood at 116 and by the end of the 20-21 school year it was 122.
“Usually for every student we lose, we gain two,” Nirosky said.
Holy Trinity Catholic School, located in St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in York, remained open for fully in-person instruction throughout the school year, which many public schools in the area were unable to do. ‘to offer. Nirosky said this was a common factor in why parents enrolled their students. Although most public schools have now reopened, she said most parents keep their students at Holy Trinity because they prefer the program.
In order to stay open full time, Nirosky said students and staff at Holy Trinity take security protocols seriously. Everyone entering the school building had their temperature checked before being allowed in, and students were kept in separate cohorts to enforce social distancing. Throughout the school year, she said only eight positive or probable cases of COVID-19 were recorded among students and school staff.
“We went above and beyond, and I think it really showed,” Nirosky said.
While the increase in enrollment is expected to have an overall positive impact on schools, Breen said some officials are discussing the best ways to accommodate additional students. Some suggested measures include increasing staff and restructuring grade levels, but Breen said nothing has been decided to his knowledge yet.