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Staffing shortages cause Mid-Michigan schools to close entirely during COVID-19 pandemic

Published: Nov. 9, 2020 at 7:25 PM EST
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MID-MICHIGAN (WJRT) - Mid-Michigan school districts are struggling to keep their doors open during the coronavirus pandemic.

Multiple districts had to shift to online learning while some closed altogether on Monday due to staffing shortages. Mount Pleasant Public Schools closed to in-person and online learning.

“We knew that we wouldn’t have enough staff members to function. So we wouldn’t have the staff to bring our students into school, educate our students and to provide an active learning day," said Mount Pleasant Superintendent Jennifer Verleger. “So that really was the tipping point for us.”

One elementary school in Mount Pleasant switched to online learning while other schools in the district closed because too many staff members are in quarantine after potential exposure to COVID-19.

“When you look at running a school district, it’s much more than teachers,” Verleger said. “We also need staff like kitchen staff, buses, custodians.”

Shepherd Public Schools in Isabella County, Beaverton Schools in Gladwin County and Ithaca Public Schools in Gratiot County also closed due to the number of teachers and students in quarantine.

In Beaverton, a school staff member tested positive for COVID-19, meaning several other staff members potentially were exposed and need to quarantine. The mother of some students also tested positive, so other students exposed to her children also need to isolate.

In Shepherd, 104 students and staff members were in coronavirus quarantine on Monday. Ithaca also didn’t have enough staff members to operate Monday due to the number in mandatory quarantine.

Verleger said Mount Pleasant Public Schools will be back to normal tomorrow both online and in person with the exception of Fancher Elementary.

“So one day will give us that time to look at the staff members we do have and organize them so we can meet these staffing needs,” she said.

All of the school districts with quarantine issues on Monday say they plan to continue updating parents and students online as they navigate the pandemic.

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