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Roxbury school to close, Winchester school becomes early-ed center

After 133 years of operation, St. Patrick School in Roxbury has said it will not reopen in the fall. Pilot file photo/Gregory L. Tracy

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BRAINTREE -- As the 2019-2020 school year drew to a close, the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on Catholic education in the Archdiocese of Boston continued to be felt.

St. Patrick School in Roxbury has confirmed that it will not be reopening for the 2020-2021 school year.

In a June 16 email, St. Patrick School Principal Tiffany Sawyer said the 133-year-old school was "not just a school but a family, a community that was unlike any other."

"When you entered our building you felt an immediate sense of love, value and unwavering faith. While this is an incredible loss to our community and city, we are tremendously proud of the legacy that each of us has helped to create. It was an honor to be a part of this community for the last nine years," she said.

Meanwhile, in a separate announcement, St. Mary's School in Winchester said the school will no longer offer grades one through five but will instead reopen in the fall as a Catholic early learning center, serving children from pre-K3 through kindergarten.

Father Paul Hurley, the administrator of St. Mary Parish, explained the reasons for this change in a May 2 announcement on the parish's website.

"I want to stress that St. Mary's School is not closing but reorganizing in order to meet the current demands of our community," Father Hurley said.

He said that before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic the school had faced a deficit but was still trying to develop strategic plans for budget and marketing. However, the pandemic caused enrollment to decline further.

"Currently, financial obligations are in jeopardy and some families are not able to pay tuition due to loss of income. Unfortunately, we now realize that we could not possibly sustain the loss that we would incur by continuing to operate the school as it is," Father Hurley said.

He said the school will become a childcare center in response to "a growing need in the community." He said they hope to open the school in September, and that they will help students from the grades no longer offered to find new schools.

"Please remember that God does not close a door without opening a window. We will work together to find those windows," Father Hurley said.

In his June 4 weekly email newsletter, archdiocesan Superintendent of Schools Thomas Carroll listed the nine Catholic schools in the archdiocese that are closing and three that are reorganizing for the 2020-2021 school year.

"While each situation is different, the common thread is that the realities presented by COVID-19 have had a disastrous impact on each school's financial situation and make it impossible for the school and the CSO (Catholic Schools Office) to provide the safe, excellent, and value-based education you and your community expect and deserve going forward," Carroll said.

He reassured displaced faculty and staff that "We value you, your expertise, your hard work, and your commitment to Catholic education."

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