Snyder, N.Y. (WIVB) — Enrollment in Roman Catholic schools has dropped in the United States by more than six percent. The Associated Press says pandemic financial strain is to blame. But around Western New York, that’s not exactly the case.
School leaders from numerous private schools tell News 4 that there has been an increase in enrollment requests, but they’ve had to decrease the class size because of the pandemic.
“Unfortunately because of the way we have to space the children to safely have them distanced for learning, we actually have lower numbers than we did two years ago,” says Jeanne Ernst, Director of Development for Christ the King.
She says the demand for private education is high, and it’s hard to wait list families that want in person education for their children.
Ernst says there’s a variety of reasons why they could be drawn to the appeal of in person learning.
“Whether their children are having a hard time with online learning, or they’re maybe not able to focus on a computer.”
At St. Amelia’s it’s a similar story. They’re seeing an increase in application numbers, because of the in person classes they offer.
Principal Scott Kapperman says safety is their top priority, which is why they’re not taking in as many students.
“When I say we’ve had a reduction in numbers…part of that is almost intentional,” says Kapperman. “And what I mean by that is, you have to look at the number of classes you’re running, and the amount of teachers you have. You can’t run classes with 8 or 9 students.”
While Kapperman thinks ahead to the 2021-2022 school year, he’s trying to imagine what the classrooms will look like.
“Do we have to limit them to 17, 18, 19 students? Or can we put 22, 23 students in a classroom,” he asked.
The determining factor, of course, is the pandemic, and the future restrictions that will either hurt or help these institutions.