LANSING, Michigan (WLNS) — Today several school districts such as Stockbridge Community Schools and Columbia Schools in Jackson County are closed due to staff shortages and COVID-19.
The Stockbridge superintendent says several teachers were absent today for various reasons, and there was just no point in going to school.
But the Michigan Education Association says these staff shortages are a statewide problem.
“We started seeing just a few schools, maybe a building or something. Now we see entire districts say no, we’re going to take this week off because we don’t have enough teachers,” said David Crim, a spokesperson for the Michigan Education Association.
Stockbridge Schools is one of those districts.
Although they were only closed today, the Superintendent says many issues have prevented the staff from attending school, some related to COVID and some not, and he did not like having classes with the available staff.
“One of the reasons is that there are not enough substitute teachers. They simply can’t find enough replacements when they can rely on subs and keep schools open ahead of the pandemic. They can’t do that anymore,” said Crim.
And it’s not just teachers.
It’s food service, secretaries, prison staff and more.
“Respect for the profession has declined sharply in the last decade, benefits, a tax on wages and benefits, the retirement of the number of teachers had increased by 40% last year compared to the previous year. So that pandemic took its toll on the existing workforce across the state,” Crim said.
Safety is also a concern
“They also want to be safe in their classrooms and not have to fight parents and others in the community to keep their students safe,” Crim said.
Crim says the best way to fix this is more money.
“We need to do more… A year’s education budget will not make up for that. So that money needs to keep flowing into the districts, and the districts need to improve compensation for teachers and support professionals,” he said.
Stockbridge Community schools say they will reopen on Monday with all staff.
They also plan to get more teachers after Thanksgiving.