CAMDEN, NJ — Rev. Dennis Sullivan said Saturday that effective Monday the Catholic Schools of the Diocese of Camden will be closed in efforts to cull the impact of COVID-19.
The announcement comes on the heels of Sullivan excusing parishioners from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass — available in Spanish here.
“Principals and faculty of each Catholic school have prepared extensive plans for remote learning to ensure the continuation of education for as long as schools are closed,” Sullivan said. “These plans will immediately be put into action by our principals who will communicate them to parents and students. Each day that students complete their lessons via remote learning during this school closure will count towards the required 180 days of school.”
The following counties have churches in the diocese: Camden, Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland, Salem and Gloucester.
Sullivan noted that the schools will be closed for a minimum of two weeks as they monitor the situation. He said he hopes the closure won’t extend for the entire school year.
New Jersey, which is in a state of emergency, has 69 cases as of Saturday afternoon - including two in Camden County.
A day earlier, Sullivan told parishioners that civic authorities, as well as health experts, have recommended that Catholics be dispensed from attending mass.
“Those who are concerned that attending mass may compromise their health and those currently suffering illness are not obliged to attend mass until they are in good health,” he said. “I strongly encourage those who choose not to attend Sunday Mass to avail themselves of other opportunities by taking part in spiritual exercises in their home: watching mass on TV, reading the Bible, listening to catholic radio/podcasts, or praying the rosary.”
Sullivan acknowledged the toll school closures will cause for parents but said the health crisis “demands the action we are taking.”
Parish events where attendance is expected to be larger than a few hundred people will be reconsidered, he said.
"The Diocese of Camden will continue to monitor the situation. It is my hope this dispensation will be short-lived, but it will remain in effect until such time as it is appropriate to be lifted," Sullivan said.
This week Gov. Phil Murphy recommended gatherings of over 250 people be canceled.