The religious superiors of Saint Gertrude High School and Benedictine College Preparatory announced Thursday, April 30 that its two institutions would co-locate a year earlier than originally planned.
A release from the schools noted that the decision comes as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and the economic uncertainty associated with it. With its move to the Goochland campus this summer, Saint Gertrude will be ready to support its students for the 2020-21 school year.
When the schools announced the formation of the Benedictine Schools of Richmond in January, it included plans for Saint Gertrude to begin operating in Goochland at the start of the 2021-22 school year, and that a girls-only building would be built in time for the 2022-23 school year. The Benedictine Schools of Richmond is the umbrella organization that includes the two high schools.
Economic uncertainty driven by the coronavirus pandemic, however, served as a catalyst for the schools’ leadership teams to review that timeline. While that uncertainty is yet to be fully manifest, there is a strong possibility that it will do so in the form of negative impacts to family finances, as well as businesses — including independent schools.
All national and state independent school associations have recommended that all member schools plan for major budgetary impacts as a result of the pandemic. As such, costs associated with maintaining two campuses during such uncertainty was a proximate reason for considering, and ultimately approving, the expedited schedule.
The leadership of both schools have stated their strong support of single-sex Catholic education in Richmond, a tradition both schools have maintained since their founding — Saint Gertrude in 1922 and Benedictine in 1911.
While the move will have students of both schools sharing some facilities, with few exceptions, classrooms will remain single-sex. In essence, the schools will continue to operate as two independent schools, with different start and end times to their school days, different class durations and separate student social gathering areas.
Leadership teams of both schools are in the process of finalizing the detailed plans for optimization of the River Road campus. The construction schedule for the Saint Gertrude High School building is unaffected by this change, with development set to start this fall.
For much of the 20th century, the two schools were located within a block of each other in the Richmond Museum District, until Benedictine moved to River Road in 2013. The relocation of Saint Gertrude to Goochland County will eventually replicate that physical closeness of the past while retaining each school’s distinctiveness.