In addition to numerous deaths and illnesses, the corona virus pandemic has impacted many families in nonphysical ways, especially because of lost employment through forced closures caused by the necessary shelter-in-place edicts. A prime example of this is the closing of schools.

Even though all schools have been ordered closed for the duration of the crisis, most schools have resorted to distance learning. But closures have an impact, especially in non-public schools, which rely on tuition-driven revenue.

A case in point are the Independence Mission Schools, an independent network of 15 Catholic elementary schools at former parish schools in the Philadelphia Archdiocese.

Although the schools are continuing instruction by classroom teachers via the internet on core academic subjects, 180 other staff are not needed at this time and have been laid off.

“To mitigate the expected reduction in tuition collection for the remainder of the school year, and to continue delivering instruction with a focus on core academic subjects, the difficult decision was made to lay off 180 personnel who are not directly involved with delivery or support of core instruction and who have not been working due to necessary building closures,” said Bruce Robinson, CEO of Independence Mission Schools, in a statement April 3.

He added that all senior-level central office employees have taken salary reductions.

“Until this point all employees had been retained and paid fully, and we hope with a secured SBA (Small Business Administration) loan we can bring them back prior to the schools reopening,” Robinson said. “If we are unable to do so while schools are still closed, we believe under the CARES Act they will be taken care of with regard to unemployment benefits.”

The $2 trillion federal law was enacted March 27 to provide economic stimulus and relief to families and businesses affected by the pandemic in the United States.

“Additionally, IMS is covering their first month of benefits and waiving April and May tuition installment payments for those who have children in our schools,” Robinson said.

At this time Independence Mission Schools conducts 15 schools in low-income or moderate income neighborhoods, mostly in Philadelphia. IMS supplements income received from families through the generosity of donors and grants.

School staffs affected include Holy Cross, Our Mother of Sorrows/St. Ignatius, St. Barnabas, St. Frances Cabrini, St. Gabriel, St. HelenaIncarnation, St. Malachy, St. Martin de Porres, St. Martin of Tours, St. Raymond of Penafort, St. Rose of Lima, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Veronica and the DePaul School, all in Philadelphia, and St. Cyril of Alexandria in East Lansdowne, Delaware County.

“Between reducing the impact of tuition loss through operational cuts and the generosity of donors, the impact of the current economy will not be as detrimental as it could otherwise have been,” Robinson said.

“We know our families are struggling with their own financial situations. Worrying about how their student will maintain his or her place at our schools should not be among their concerns and we will do everything possible to continue serving those who rely on and trust in us.”