COVID-19 Permanent Private School Closures

The COVID-19 crisis is wreaking havoc on all schools, but private schools are 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 is proving very difficult to sustain as the coronavirus has led to school and church shutdowns—and hence big fundraising drops—and as tuition‐​paying families face 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 almost the beginning of local and state lockdowns. Below you will find summary information for all closures—completed or announced—an estimate of the potential cost to public schools were all students in closed private schools to enroll in public schools, and a chart of daily closure announcements. Below that is a link to view our full list of schools and other data.

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 * $15,424 =

Sources: Closing Summary, and National Center for Education Statistics, Digest of Education Statistics, 2019, 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.

Closing Announcements by Date

Source: Media reports

To view the entire list, 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.