Immaculate Conception closing high school grades, says COVID hurt enrollment

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Immaculate Conception Cathedral will close its high school June 30, the Catholic Diocese of Memphis announced Tuesday.

The school will remain open for preschool through eighth grades.

School and church leaders blamed the economic downturn related to the COVID-19 pandemic, calling the decision to close the high school grades “heartbreaking.”

School leaders say many parents can’t afford tuition because they either lost their job or income. That lead to a roughly 48 percent drop in enrollment going into next year.

“If you’re trying to pay rent and put food on the table, in many ways, a parochial school education is a sacrifice,” Father Robert Marshall said.

“Over these past few months, as unemployment rates rose and incomes declined, it became increasingly clear that our hopes were not sustainable. Rather than growth, the recent economic downturn signaled a further decline in our high school enrollment. We also believe the competition of other private and public schools, especially charter schools, contributed to the steady decline in our enrollment,” Superintendent of Memphis Catholic Schools Janet Donato said in a statement.

The high school on Central Avenue in Midtown has existed in various forms since it opened in 1922, according to a release.

Going forward, any students who want to can transfer to St. Benedict at Auburndale in Cordova.

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