How Catholic schools are planning to safely reopen

The president of the National Catholic Educational Association, Kathy Mears, addresses school safety, shrinking enrollment and more.
3:14 | 08/13/20

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Transcript for How Catholic schools are planning to safely reopen
With the new academic year arriving the debate over whether schools should re-open remains divided. There's an added threat to private institutions like catholic schools. Shrinking enrollment with parents unable to justify the cost of private schools during the pandemic. We're joined by Kathy Mears. She's the interim president and CEO of the catholic school association. Thanks for being with us, Kathy. Great to see you. Obviously the big question everyone has is do you plan on re-opening schools in the fall and, if so, how are you planning to do that? Yes, we're planning to re-open. Many of our schools are already open. By the end of next week 75% of catholic schools across the country will be re-opened. We are being very careful. We're following all local guidelines and the recommendations of health care professionals. We're making sure the students are six feet apart in the schools, that they're all facing one direction, plexiglass has been put up. We're doing everything we can to keep students safe and provide quality catholic education. One of my daughters is going to catholic school. She has two days in person. The rest of the time is virtual learning. What is the basic break down? How many of the catholic schools will be offering in person instruction or a hybrid of sorts? At the elementary level about 85% are going back in person full time. About 15% of our students and their families are choosing to go online in catholic schools with partners like catholic virtual who can offer online teaching and learning. We're able to live stream some of the classes. We're using a variety of approaches to meet the needs of everybody. It's something the church believes that decisions are best made locally and that's what catholic schools are doing. We have great teachers, principals, superintendents working hard to keep children and teachers safe and to make this as successful as possible. Complicating all this, financial and enrollment problems triggered by the pandemic have forced the closure of more than 140 catholic schools nationwide. What do you say to families who are questioning whether tuition fees are justifiable during these times? It's so worth it. You still have that community. You still have those teachers who love your children when they're in the classroom. They love them when they're online. We know it's not the same. We understand that. Our teachers still deserved to get paid. 85% of tuition dollars pay the teachers. The teachers are still working. In many cases teaching online is so much more challenging. They're working harder than ever before. It is absolutely worth it. I understand why people feel that way. I get it. I paid a lot of catholic school tuition in my lifetime. It is so worth it. We hope that people stick with us. Once the school is gone, it's hard to get back. We need the support now to keep the schools open. If people will give us a chance, we'll prove it's worth every cent. Kathy Mears, we appreciate your time today. Thank you so much for joining us. Thank you for having me. I appreciate it.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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