Ann Arbor Public Schools Superintendent Jeanice Swift announced on Oct. 27 that all Ann Arbor public schools will not hold classes on Nov. 1 to provide a period of rest for the AAPS community. Some schools in the district have recently been experiencing a staffing shortage.
Last Friday, Huron High School, Skyline High School and Forsythe Middle School had an emergency closing because of staff shortages. Parents and students were given notice the night before and adjusted to remote learning the next day. On Monday, parents with kids attending A2STEAM School were given the notice only an hour before the start of the school day that all classes would be remote.
Swift discussed the difficulty of opening schools for in-person learning with the challenges of maintaining COVID-19 safety and staff shortages as the reason for the closure in her announcement.
“We continue to be concerned and focused on supporting our school and district teams that are stretched thin, addressing daily staffing challenges across all job categories in the organization, as well as shoring up all components of system operations,” Swift wrote. “The strains of this fall return are not unique to the Ann Arbor Public Schools; they are pervasive in school districts and communities across the country.”
Earlier this school year, Eastpointe Middle School in nearby Macomb County was forced online for a week after a spree of resignations. 22% of Eastpointe’s teaching positions were vacant, according to the Detroit Free Press.
AAPS’s move to only reopen for in-person learning this fall, rather than in the spring of 2021, faced criticism from many parents and community members. Others were worried about safety precautions, and some AAPS parents have called for AAPS employees to be required to get vaccinated.
Nov. 1 typically has low attendance as it is the day after Halloween. The district also has Nov. 2 off due to Election Day, giving AAPS students and staff a four-day weekend.
Swift acknowledged the short notice, but wrote in the announcement she hopes that “sharing notice of this adjustment ahead of the weekend and in time for families to coordinate a plan is far better than an over-the-weekend or last-minute morning notification.”
Swift also wrote that AAPS is working hard to sustain the reopening of schools after the weekend.
“The current strains we are experiencing do not diminish the joy and learning occurring across our vibrant classrooms and the critical importance of having our students and staff together in school every day we can safely do so,” Swift wrote.
Daily Staff Reporter Caroline Wang can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.