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Coronavirus Impact: Coyle And Cassidy, St. Margaret Catholic Schools Closing For Good

FALL RIVER (CBS) -- The financial impact of the coronavirus is forcing the permanent closure of two Catholic schools in southeastern Massachusetts. The Diocese of Fall River announced that both Coyle and Cassidy Middle School and High School in Taunton as well as St. Margaret Primary School in Buzzards Bay are shutting down at the end of the school year.

The diocese said it was covering budget shortfalls at both schools "but the pandemic has made that unsustainable."

"By consolidating our resources and bringing students together in these schools we can continue to provide high quality Christ-centered education for all of our students," Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha said in a message to families

Coyle and Cassidy High School students will merge with Bishop Connolly in Fall River. Middle school students will transfer to Taunton's Our Lady of Lourdes School.

"I don't really know what to think, it hasn't really hit me yet," Coyle and Cassidy student Anthony Emond said Thursday.

"There's no answers to anything, now not even school," Anthony's mother Diana Festa-Emond said. "It's just too much."

Like many Catholic schools Coyle and Cassidy was battling slumping enrollment, trying to regroup amid losing two-thirds of its students over the past decade.

"I think we were teetering and Covid just put us over the edge," said Ligia Madeira, who was on the parent advisory panel at Coyle and Cassidy. "At this point we're still too sad really to sort of figure out what our next step is."

The diocese said St. Margaret Primary students will choose between St. Pius X in South Yarmouth, St. Joseph School in Fairhaven and St. Francis Xavier in Acushnet.

"While we sincerely regret having to close any of our Catholic schools, the ultimate goal is to strengthen all remaining schools to ensure Catholic education is available for many years to come," Superintendent Stephen A. Perla said in a statement.

Students will retain their current financial aid and scholarships.

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