Schools operated by or affiliated with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Arlington are seeing a cumulative 6-percent increase in enrollment this fall, and are gearing up to support nearly 17,000 students.
All 41 Catholic schools in the Diocese of Arlington are preparing to welcome the students back to full-time, in-person learning for the 2021-22 school year, which begins Aug. 23. The diocesan school system also will continue its all-“virtual” school – Saint Isidore of Seville – which last year provided services for about 150 students.
“This year is a particularly exciting time in Catholic education, as we build off of the many innovations and lessons of the past year to reopen safely once again and to continue to pursue new, creative ways of learning for our students,” said Joseph Vorbach, superintendent of schools for the diocese.
“I am grateful for the exceptional talent found within our Catholic schools and the ongoing commitment to provide joyful, engaging and student-centered environments for our learners to grow in faith and knowledge,” Vorbach said.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Arlington covers territory ranging west to the West Virginia border and south to roughly Fredericksburg. The Richmond diocese covers the rest of the commonwealth.
During the 2020-21 school year, the schools in the Arlington diocese offered both full-time in-person and hybrid options to students. For 2021-22, school officials will continue following guidelines laid down by state and federal health officials.
“Mitigation plans have provisions for schools to scale up or down based on local infection rates, and include practices such as face coverings, enhanced cleaning and air filtration,” school officials said.
The uptick in student enrollment may be no surprise; private schools across the region have reported similar increases, perhaps due to discontent among some with public-school performance during the pandemic.
“While the vast majority of diocesan schools have extensive waiting lists, enrollment is dynamic and interested families are encouraged to make inquiries with their local Catholic schools,” school officials said.
For the new school year, Saint Isidore of Seville Catholic Virtual School has become part of Queen of Apostles School in Alexandria. Saint Isidore is still accepting applications for the current academic year.
Diocesan high schools also are planning for the fall sports season, with football, cross-country, cheerleading, volleyball and soccer all in preseason preparation.