Catholic Schools Blaze New Ground Amidst Pandemic Pressures

Plus, reporters and experts on EWTN News In Depth cover Catholic priorities that depend on Republicans’ ability to filibuster.

Panelists discuss Catholic schools on EWTN News In Depth, April 9, 2021. From left to right: Montse Alvarado, Ashley McGuire, Thomas Carroll and Matthew Bunson
Panelists discuss Catholic schools on EWTN News In Depth, April 9, 2021. From left to right: Montse Alvarado, Ashley McGuire, Thomas Carroll and Matthew Bunson (photo: EWTN Screenshot)

The state of Catholic Schools amidst COVID 19 — including a look at funding and enrollment — leads the agenda on the April 9 episode of EWTN News In Depth. With the academic year drawing near to its close, EWTN News’ Mark Irons talks with Catholic school leaders about the challenges they faced this past year and what may lie ahead.

EWTN News’ Montse Alvarado interviews Kathy Mears, head of the National Catholic Education Association (NCEA), who shares striking feedback from a study of 1,400 parents who sent their children to Catholic school for the first time during the pandemic.

Then, an expert panel explains how administrators at Catholic schools pioneered health safety protocols to get a jump on learning in hybrid and in-person settings.

The State of Catholic Schools: Key Takeaways

  • In-person learning succeeded, with 90% of Catholic schools this year achieving it in some form, but …  
  • Enrollment dropped 6.4% in the 2020-21 school year and hundreds of Catholic schools permanently closed their doors due to financial hardship
  • On the plus side, state-funded vouchers now available for private school in places like Ohio — designed to give low-income families school choice —may help keep Catholic schools on offer.
Number of Catholic school students
Number of Catholic school students

Behind the Numbers: The higher-than-average enrollment decline in Catholic schools for 2020-21 is partially inflated by large numbers of preschool children kept home by parents.

Experts Weigh In on Catholic Schools Reopening

EWTN News In Depth’s panelists say that stakes were high for vulnerable schoolchildren during the pandemic. Catholic schools that held in-person classes became a haven against hunger and domestic abuse in some cases. 

You heard right. Thomas Carroll, Superintendent of Schools for the Archdiocese of Boston, whose schools reopened successfully, says diocesan schools faced criticism and concern that they would become super spreaders of COVID-19.

“It turned out in the end that the safest place for a child in America was inside a Catholic school that was following health protocols,” Carroll says.

Ashley McGuire, a Senior Fellow at the Catholic Association and mom of primary schoolchildren, gives an insider’s perspective on distance learning and the impact of school choice for families.

Watch the full discussion:

Also on EWTN News In Depth

Filibuster Frenzy — Ending Gridlock or Endangering Congressional Collaboration?

EWTN News In Depth breaks down issues surrounding the U.S. Senate’s filibuster furor of recent days. But first, EWTN’s Kate Scanlon gives a refresher about what the filibuster is, and how removing it could impact legislation important to Catholics.

Could you remind me ... why we’re discussing this?

Senate Democrats are seeking ways to bypass the “filibuster,” a legislative tactic long used by both political parties to delay or stop a vote on a bill. The decision comes as a tug of war continues on Capitol Hill over whether the filibuster should be eliminated entirely. 

Why mess with a good thing? 

Democrats in an evenly-split Congress want to expedite more big-ticket legislation like the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 Stimulus Package that was signed into law last month. The push to end the longstanding practice of the filibuster would allow bills to pass with less votes, meaning less agreement: 51 votes instead of a 60-vote majority. 

So what’s at stake here?

There are a few things:

  • Republican voices. “The filibuster is used to protect the rights of the minority [party in Congress].”
    — D.J. Jordan, (Vice President, Pinkston Group)
  • Abortion and LGBT laws. “Doing away with the filibuster could in fact lead to an overreach on the part of government.” — Matthew Bunson (EWTN Washington Bureau Chief)
  • How people vote. Amanda Makki, a 2020 Republican candidate for Congress, explains how future elections could also be affected. 

Watch the Full Segment:

And Music for Your Ears: Beloved Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli opens up about his “Faith Journey”

World-famous classical singer Andrea Bocelli welcomes EWTN Vatican correspondent Colm Flynn to his home in Florence, Italy, for an interview you’ll want to hear at full volume. 

Watch the full show:

Father Alberto Reyes has emerged as a critical voice against the extreme poverty and repressive actions of Cuba's police state.

Cuba’s Government Shuts Down Priest’s Peaceful Protest

The Office of Religious Affairs of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba “manages the different aspects of religious life” in the country, as noted in the 2023 Religious Freedom Report of Aid to the Church in Need.