The superintendent of Los Angeles’ Catholic schools announced Friday that Catholic schools in Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties will close and move to “remote learning” effective Tuesday, March 17 through at least March 31 to limit the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus). 

In a letter sent March 13 to parents of the nearly 75,000 children enrolled in Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Senior Director and Superintendent Paul Escala said the decision to close the schools was made as “an important contribution to the effort to slow the spread of the virus,” while noting that there were no known confirmed cases of COVID-19 among staff or students in any schools in the Archdiocese as the time of the announcement.

“Our highest priority during this period is to ensure our schools are prepared to maintain learning during the closure,” said Escala, who noted that the Department of Catholic Schools (DCS) would be working with principals to “to provide resources for online and distance learning” for students during the closure and would “continue to provide support to schools during the closure period, on-site and remotely.”

Monday, March 16 will be a day to distribute instructional materials, technology devices, and lesson packets to families and students at schools in the Archdiocese, Escala told members of the press Friday afternoon. 

Los Angeles Archbishop José H. Gomez said the Archdiocese has been in touch with government and public health officials since the outbreak of the disease. 

“While we do not have any known cases to date, we believe that temporarily closing our schools and moving to distance-learning will help protect the public health and keep our families and neighbors safe from harm,” said the Archbishop. 

The announcement came just hours after Archbishop Gomez announced that all Catholics in the Archdiocese will be dispensed from their obligation to attend Sunday Mass for the next three weeks and asked the faithful to join him in a prayer to Our Lady of Guadalupe that he composed especially for this “time of the coronavirus.”

In his letter to parents, Escala acknowledged that the decision to close schools for two weeks midway through the school is “unprecedented.”

“We recognize the significant impact this extended closure will have on our entire community, students, families, and staff,” Escala said. “We also acknowledge the burden this will place on our staff and working families. As a community of faith, we must come together and help one another – communicate, share resources, offer support.”