Schools to close, St. Peter Church, Diocesan Pastoral Center alter hours for DNC
CHARLOTTE — The upcoming Democratic National Convention will prompt some closings and schedule changes for the Diocesan Pastoral Center and St. Peter Church in uptown Charlotte.
Mecklenburg Area Catholic Schools
All nine Mecklenburg Area Catholic Schools will close Sept. 6 because of anticipated road closures and other problems associated with the crowds coming for the president's acceptance speech at Bank of America stadium, according to a letter from Superintendent Janice Ritter.
"Based on the road closures that we do know, and the anticipated unannounced closures and changes, we believe it is in the best interest of our students to close the MACS schools on Thursday, September 6," said the letter dated Thursday.
"What makes this particular decision challenging is that we are trying to make a sound decision based on limited information. However, we feel it is best to make the safety of our students, families and teachers a top priority.
"We also feel it is better to make that decision now so that families have time to plan for childcare, rather than find ourselves in the position of making a last minute decision to close.
"I appreciate your understanding of this decision. As a parent, I realize that a school closure presents childcare issues for many parents, but as a school administrator, I am concerned with the safety of our school communities."
Principals are "fairly confident" they can cope with "increased traffic, delays and road closures" on the first two days of the convention, Sept. 4 and 5. Teachers will give students work to do at home on Sept. 6, the letter says.
Mike Ford, MACS spokesman, had previously said there would be no change to school operations.
The buses have been moved from the Palmer Street Lot for storage prior to the DNC. They will be housed at a location just off of Westinghouse Boulevard.
The move has happened prior to the start of school, and they will remain there until after the convention.
St. Peter Church
St. Peter Church, located in the heart of the convention area at 507 South Tryon St., will be open to the public only from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. daily from Sept. 3 through 6, said parish administrative assistant Rebekah Thompson.
Daily Mass will be said at 12:10 p.m. each day, as usual. The parish office will be shuttered for most of the week – closed Sept. 3-6, and reopening under its normal schedule Friday, Sept. 7.
There is no change to Mass times for the Saturday Vigil and Sunday Masses on Sept. 1 and 2. Parishioners will have access to The Green parking garage, but Thompson cautions people to expect it to be difficult to find parking.
See a full schedule.
Diocesan Pastoral Center
The Diocese of Charlotte's Pastoral Center, located on South Church Street, will be open Sept. 4, 5 and 7.
Coinciding with President Barack Obama's appearance at nearby Bank of America Stadium, the Pastoral Center will be completely closed on Thursday, Sept. 6.
A law enforcement checkpoint, which will control access inside the security zone encompassing the convention area, will be set up just outside the Pastoral Center.
The diocese is leasing space in the Pastoral Center to the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department for the checkpoint operations, said Deacon Guy Piche, diocesan properties and risk management director. The short-term lease runs Aug. 24 through Sept. 9 for an undisclosed amount of money. Police equipment and vehicles will use part of the Palmer Street parking lot, where some diocesan employees park and where the MACS school buses are kept.
The Pastoral Center will also be closed Labor Day weekend between 6 p.m. Aug. 31 and 7:15 a.m. Sept. 4, and on Sept. 8.
St. Patrick Cathedral
No changes to the parish office schedule are expected at nearby St. Patrick Cathedral, said parish office manager Deb Lemmon.
Catholic Social Services
Catholic Social Services Food Pantry in Charlotte will be closed on Sept. 6, said CSS Director Dr. Gerard Carter. The Food Pantry located in the Pastoral Center will be open on Tuesday, Sept. 4, as usual.
"Probably the biggest issue will be clients' access to the building – that is, pedestrian and vehicular barriers to them being able to physically get here," Carter said. "Other than that, it should be business as usual."
— Kimberly Bender, online reporter
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