AMHERST, NY (WIVB) For decades, Catholic Schools have boasted of smaller class sizes. Now in the midst of a pandemic, those smaller private schools are better positioned to meet and the distancing guidelines and still be able to offer a five day school week.
“We’re at the point of next week possibly telling people we’re full now,” said Christ the King Elementary School principal Maria Wangler. Their class sizes are small enough that they plan to open five days a week and still be able to keep desks six feet apart.
Wangler says that’s attracting calls from at least two dozen families who never attended the school before. “We do understand that there are people who are going to come because they need us and we’re here for them.”
The cost of tuition at Christ the King School in Snyder is $5,900 a year for families who are not already parishioners of the church. Certain families are considering it for the first time because under public school’s reopening plan in some cases, they’d be paying for a few days of daycare anyway.
“They need help. We need help. It’s beneficial for both of us because we all need it at this point,” said Wangler, “We all need to survive.”
It all depends on final approval from the state, but St. Andrew’s Country Day School on Sheridan Drive also plans to open five days a week with the ability to keep desks six feet apart, according to business administrator, Renee Pratt. “Certainly, we’re using our small size that we have become proud of to keep our children safe.”
But in the area’s largest Catholic Elementary school, St. Amelia in the Town of Tonawanda, it’s not quite as easy to distance. “Depending on what the Governor says. If he says it’s six feet to the letter of the law, I think most school buildings would have a hard time with that, however we are fortunate that we do have large enough rooms that we can fit up to 20 kids at almost 6 foot distance,” said principal, Scott Kapperman, who notes the school will also have plastic partitions at each desk.
Creating a protective environment during a pandemic is just the latest hurdle in a private school’s struggle for survival. “Private institutions such as Catholic schools depend on fundraising and you can imagine without any sort of major fundraisers being allowed and with church attendance down and Bingo not possible, we’re trying to function with very little.”