In more than four decades of coaching girls’ basketball at Lebanon Catholic High School in southeastern Pennsylvania, Patti Hower had led the team to three state championships and 20 district titles. This year, with four starting players returning, there were high hopes again.
But then in April came the news: the Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg announced that the school, whose origins date to 1859, was permanently closing, citing insurmountable financial stress, exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.
“We played our last game in March and had a postgame talk saying, ‘We’re looking forward to this upcoming year,’” said Ms. Hower, 68, who attended the school, like her father and granddaughters. “We never thought, ‘Hey, we’re never going to get on that court together again as a team.’”
As schools around the country debate how to reopen safely, a growing number of Catholic schools — already facing declining enrollments and donations from before the pandemic — are shutting down for good.