NCEA Releases 2020 - 2021 Data on State of Catholic Schools Amid COVID-19

The annual statistical report on schools, enrollment and staffing, United States Catholic Elementary and Secondary Schools 2020 – 2021, to be released February 17, 2021.

Arlington, VA – The National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) will release its annual report, United States Catholic Elementary and Secondary Schools 2020 – 2021 on February 17. The report will include the impact of COVID-19 on Catholic school enrollment and closures.

Current Catholic school enrollment is 1,626,291 in 5,981 Catholic schools. There are 4,812 elementary schools and 1,169 secondary schools.

The challenges related to COVID-19 have forced all schools to educate students differently. More than 90 percent of Catholic schools were open for in-person learning and working within sanctioned health guidelines. By the start of the 2020 school year, 209 Catholic schools had closed – many because of COVID-19, but others due to declining enrollment and financial instability.

Some states and cities have seen an uptick in Catholic school enrollment with an influx of transfer students opting for in-person classes and choosing Catholic schools. But the full story is still unfolding as Catholic schools have experienced an overall dramatic decline in enrollment and an increase in school closures.

To better understand the data collected for the annual report, NCEA will hold a webinar on February 10 at 2 PM EST/11 AM PST. A data brief summarizing key findings of NCEA’s research can be found on the NCEA website. Online registration for the webinar is available.

The following are a few of the data points to be addressed:

  • Catholic school enrollment across the nation dropped 6.4 percent from the previous academic year – the largest single year decline in nearly 50 years.
  • Catholic school closures in 2019-2020 disproportionately impacted underserved families and non-Catholic families.
  • Pre-Kindergarten enrollment declined by 26.6 percent from 2019-2020 to 2020-2021.

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In service of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, NCEA strengthens Catholic school communities by providing professional development, formation, leadership and advocacy.