Classes cancelled at Kodiak’s St. Mary’s Catholic School next year 

A Catholic school in Kodiak has called off classes for the coming school year.

Father Frank Reitter, the Pastor of St. Mary’s Catholic Church,  says he broke the news to parishioners over the weekend.

“We really appreciate the community’s support, and they’re grieving with us,” Reitter said. “Our intention is to look at things and rebuild. We’re suspending. We’re not closing.”

Father Reitter says the school was ready to open this fall, but the COVID-19 closures  prevented the school from holding its major spring fundraiser. Then enrollment declined, and the combination of the two made it impossible to continue.

“Nobody talked about any of this prior to COVID,” Reitter said. “That’s what really messed everything up.”

 Father Reitter says it hurts to let such fine group of teachers and students bear the brunt of the impact — but says if the school opened this fall, there was a good chance it would have to close in the middle of the school year, which wouldn’t be fair to anyone.

The St. Mary’s school opened in 1954 in a quonset hut in downtown Kodiak with just 12 students. Last year about 60 students were enrolled in grades K-8. St. Mary’s has a staff of about 16 people.

The school posted a letter on its Facebook page from the archbishop of the Anchorage and Juneau Diocese, Andrew Bellisario, who said he supports the the decision to suspend classes this fall, based on the recommendations of the parish’s pastoral and financial councils, as well as the Archdiocese’s financial council. Bellisario believes they explored every option to keep the school open and expressed hope the school will reopen, perhaps when the COVID-19 epidemic ends.


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