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America StaffAugust 17, 2023
Suzanne Krumpelman, counselor at St. Joseph School in Fayetteville, Ark., reads to first graders about friendship Feb. 9, 2022, amid the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Catholic mental health professionals and diocesan officials, young people face considerable mental health challenges -- and the adults in their lives need to listen. (OSV News photo/CNS file, Travis McAfee, Arkansas Catholic)Suzanne Krumpelman, counselor at St. Joseph School in Fayetteville, Ark., reads to first graders about friendship Feb. 9, 2022, amid the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Catholic mental health professionals and diocesan officials, young people face considerable mental health challenges -- and the adults in their lives need to listen. (OSV News photo/CNS file, Travis McAfee, Arkansas Catholic)
Catholic schools 2023
Catholic schools 2023

Catholic schools have endured a whipsaw from the Covid-19 pandemic in recent years. After suffering a decline in enrollment of 6.4 percent in 2020-21 (the largest drop in nearly 50 years), the national Catholic school system enjoyed an enrollment increase in 2021-22 of 3.7 percent. The school year that recently ended brought a more modest increase of 0.3 percent, so enrollment has yet to match pre-pandemic levels. Early childhood enrollment increased from 124,134 in 2019-20 to 170,410 in 2022-23. (Read “Catholic Schools After Covid” on Page 26 of this issue to find out more about how Catholic schools are faring in the post-pandemic era.)

Matching overall U.S. migration trends, Catholic schools in the Southeast region of the country now enroll more students than before the pandemic, driven by a combined 8.8 percent increase in enrollment in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia from 2019-20 to 2022-23. The Mideast region, consisting of Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania, suffered the largest decline during the same period—7.5 percent—accompanied by the closure or merger of 10.6 percent of schools.

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