The Archdiocese of Chicago and the Diocese of Joliet have canceled all in-person classes at their Catholic schools amid concerns over a coronavirus pandemic.
Catholic schools in Cook and Lake counties will be closed indefinitely starting Monday, March 16, Archdiocese Superintendent of Catholic Schools Jim Rigg said in a letter to parents.
All Catholic schools, religious education and youth ministry programs operated by the Diocese of Joliet will close the same day until further notice, the Rev. John Belmont said.
“This decision extends to all regular operations of our Catholic schools, including all extra-curricular activities, social events and other school-related gatherings,” Rigg said.
Riggs said the archdiocese has not determined how long the closure will last.
Students will continue to do class work online, he said. Catholic schools not operated by the archdiocese will make closure decisions individually.
“I encourage you to continue to pray for God’s grace throughout this time of uncertainty,” Rigg said. “Let us pray for the health and wellbeing of our Catholic school community and all our brothers and sisters affected by the epidemic.”
Students in Joliet will complete at home learning activities, and “Youth Formation programs will be provided means to facilitate ongoing formation,” Belmont said.
The announcement comes after the archdiocese closed St. Margaret of Scotland School on the South Side after a student tested positive for coronavirus. Because the student also attended the school Mass at St. Margaret of Scotland Church on Thursday, there will be no daily Mass on Friday.
Earlier Friday, Old St. Patrick’s church in the West Loop canceled upcoming Masses as a precaution against the spread of the coronavirus.
On Thursday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said there were 32 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Illinois, and mandated that all events with more than 1,000 people be canceled or postponed.
On Thursday, Ohio and Maryland both announced the closure of their K-12 schools.