COVID-19 Permanent Private School Closures

The COVID-19 crisis has wrought havoc on all schools, but private schools could be in especially grave danger. Many have long been on a precarious financial footing, forced to keep tuition as low as possible to remain viable against “free” public schools. That razor‐​thin financial model could be difficult to sustain as the coronavirus has led to many school and church shutdowns—and hence big fundraising drops—and as tuition‐​paying families have faced their own virus‐​related financial problems.

Cato’s Center for Educational Freedom has been tracking private school permanent closures at least partially connected to COVID-19 since the beginning of local and state lockdowns. Below you will find summary information for all COVID‐​connected closures—completed or announced—an estimate of the potential cost to public schools were all students in those institutions to enroll in public schools, a count of permanent private school closures in this time period not connected to COVID-19, and a chart of daily COVID‐​connected closure announcements. Below that are links to view our full lists of COVID and non‐​COVID closed schools, as well as a link to a summary of our recent private school enrollment survey.

Closing Summary — Continually Updated

Sources: Closures are from media reports. “Net closures” is closed schools remaining after some schools close but consolidate into a new school. Enrollment is from media reports, direct school reports, or Private School Review, and is based on all closures. Tuition data are from school websites or direct communications with schools. In some cases average tuition is weighted by student enrollment in different grades. Catholic schools often have three tuition tiers—Catholic in‐​parish, Catholic out‐​of‐​parish, and non‐​Catholic. Where that is the case and data to weight by enrollment are not available, data are from the middle tuition tier. Demographic data are from Niche​.com.

Transfer Cost to Public Schools

Total Enrollment * $15,946 =

Sources: Closing Summary, and National Center for Education Statistics, Digest of Education Statistics, 2020, table 236.55
This estimates the worst‐​case financial scenario for public schools stemming from private school closures: all kids who had been in closing private schools transferring to public schools. The calculation is total enrollment in closing schools multiplied by average per‐​pupil spending in public schools.

Non‐​COVID Permanent Closures:

COVID Closing Announcements by Date

School Closures By Month

Daily School Closures, Last 60 Days

Source: Media reports

To view the entire COVID closure list, follow this link.

To view the entire non‐​COVID closure list, follow this link.

To view a summary of our private school enrollment survey, follow this link.

If you know of permanent closures not on the list, or if you believe schools have been listed by mistake, please contact CEF director Neal McCluskey. We welcome suggestions for improving the tracker.