While state and city officials discuss if and when public schools will open in the fall, it's clear that one parochial school definitely will not.
St. John's School in Kingsbridge is one of 20 New York schools that were shut down by the Archdiocese of New York — closures church officials say will impact more than 2,500 students and 350 staff members.
"Children are always the most innocent victims of any crisis, and this COVID-19 pandemic is no exception," Cardinal Timothy Dolan said, in a release. "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."
In all, six Bronx schools were shut down — Nativity of our Blessed Lady in Eastchester, Our Lady of the Assumption School in Pelham Bay, St. John's School on Kingsbridge Avenue, St. Luke School in Mott Haven, Sts. Philip & James School in Williamsbridge, and St. Thomas Aquinas School in West Farms.
Also closing are two Yonkers campuses — St. Ann School and St. Paul School.
"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," Dolan said.
The cardinal added that the superintendent's office will help families affected by the change find a new school. St. John's closing leaves just two Catholic schools remaining in the extended community — St. Gabriel's School on West 235th Street, and St. Margaret of Cortona School on West 260th Street.
In a letter sent to community members of the archdiocese, Dolan blamed the closures on dwindling attendance, some of which was exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.
"Like so many families, businesses and institutions around the world, the schools which will not be reopening are victims of the fallout of the coronavirus," Dolan wrote. "Despite $40 million in annual subsidy, the archdiocese provides to our Catholic schools, our generous scholarship programs and tuition kept as low as possible, many families — having already experienced their own loss of income — felt unable to plan ahead and re-register their students. Add to that months of unopened churches and the resulting loss of parish funds, which traditionally help support the schools, and it became clear that these schools — despite heroic efforts to save them — would not be able to reopen this September."
The Catholic church as a whole has been closing a number of schools over recent years, including Visitation School on West 239th Street in 2017, and the 2013 shuttering of the school at Our Lady of Angels on Webb Avenue.
"Closing a school is something we never want to do," Dolan said. "We all love these kids, and the moms and dads who work so hard to send them to our schools. Our educators, including your local principal and teachers, devote their lives to educating your children."