Skip to content

A Tough COVID Choice—and a Thriving First Grader

Just before Christmas, educational news source The 74 Million highlighted one of the families who are new to the Partnership Schools this year. The article, featuring Mt. Carmel-Holy Rosary first grader Landon and his parents, is part of a series in which that publication examines the ways the COVID crisis is affecting families’ educational choices nationwide.

An excerpt:

Last spring, after her 6-year-old son’s New York City charter school shuttered its doors in response to the pandemic, Sashaly Gomez would sit with her kindergartener, Landon, through each school day to keep him on task.

“He just gets distracted with the Zoom,” said Gomez. “He’s in his house so he wants to get up, he wants to get a snack, to get a toy. He wants to show his classmates a toy.”

Gomez is an operations manager at Flight Club, a well-known New York City sneaker outlet which closed temporarily in the spring due to the coronavirus. That’s what allowed her to be with Landon during the school day.

“I was one of the lucky ones who got to work from home,” she explained.

But the arrangement was temporary for Gomez, who said she was already disenchanted by her son’s charter school for its lack of communication around Landon’s academic struggles, including the possibility that he could get held back a year. By the fall, Flight Club had reopened, meaning that Gomez would need to go into work. No one would be there to help her son with his Zoom classes.

“It was basically like I was in school with him, so I just knew going forward, either I would have to cut back from work or we would have to find a different alternative,” said Gomez. “We couldn’t do remote.”

Exploring other options, Gomez and her husband found Mt. Carmel-Holy Rosary School in upper Manhattan, where the school administration told them that, if at all possible given community contagion levels, in-person learning would be available in the fall. After securing a scholarship that helped with the $5,200-per-year tuition, the Gomez family enrolled their son.

It’s been a great fit for Landon, reports Gomez. The in-person cohort in his first grade class is small, and he has made close friendships. After facing difficulties in his former school, Landon made secondary honor roll this fall at Mt. Carmel.

“He’s thriving,” said Gomez proudly, whose faith in her son’s new school remains strong even though it, too, had to pause in-person learning this week because of the coronavirus. The school had gone 14 consecutive weeks with its doors and classrooms open. Principal Molly Smith said that Mt. Carmel plans to resume in-person learning in mid-January after a two-week stretch of remote instruction to allow students and teachers to quarantine after any holiday travel.

The 74 Million article goes on to discuss the implications of the pandemic for enrollment in Catholic schools across the country, and to share more about the Gomez family’s plans for their children’s education. The full article is available here

The dynamics of enrollment across our network are certainly ones we devote a great deal of thought to. But enrollment is never an end in itself for our schools; it is the work after a child enrolls that animates us, so that what Ms. Gomez says about her son—“he’s thriving”—can be true for every student. Particularly in these uncertain times, that is the most exhilarating sentence we can hear, and it is a privilege to work every day for the flourishing of Landon and all our students.