Huron, Skyline and Forsythe to temporarily move online due to staff shortages caused by illness


UPDATE Oct. 25 – Superintendent Swift announced this morning that A2STEAM, grades K-8, would be closed today, Monday, Oct. 25, due to more than 20% of staff absences being unfilled by substitutes. 

Due to high levels of illness causing staff absences, Skyline and Huron high schools and Forsythe Middle School will temporarily move to online instruction tomorrow, Friday, Oct. 22.

“This is an emergency measure made necessary due to numerous unfilled positions across the district and an inability to fully staff our schools for tomorrow,” said Superintendent Jeanice Swift in a district announcement through email. 

Noting that “The health and safety of students and staff will continue as our top priority in the Ann Arbor Public Schools,” Swift did not elaborate on the nature of the staff illnesses. As of Oct. 15, the district as a whole has recorded 233 cases of COVID-19 on its running dashboard since school started in late August, including 40 cases at Huron High School, 12 at Skyline, and one at Forsythe. Pioneer has reported 10 cases.

Huron, Skyline and Forsythe students will proceed to virtual, asynchronous learning. There are currently no plans to extend the online instruction beyond Friday. Teachers will communicate and provide class materials through Schoology, websites, or email, according to Swift’s announcement.

Angelina Fan, a senior at Huron, says that she has experienced this year’s high absence rates among staff, compared to previous years.

“More than I remember, there are more teachers gone,” said Fan.” I know it’s partly because of Covid, but I have noticed a lot of subs this year.”

Skyline senior Sarah Stansfield has faced similar situations and did not expect the sudden transition.

“This was just very sudden. Normally, you’d think people would be like, ‘Oh, I heard we might shut down tonight,’ but I hadn’t heard anything,” Stansfield said.

The late announcement has spurred mixed reactions among students, from unknown concerns about the future to a sense of relief regarding the virtual day.

“First, there was just a kind of feeling of disbelief, followed by disappointment. I didn’t have extremely positive experiences with online learning last year, so it made me disappointed because I was looking forward to school tomorrow, and nervous because now I feel like the rest of the school year has potential to be online again,” Stansfield said. “That was followed by a feeling of relief because it is asynchronous. I know I would have my schedule open so I could get some things done before I start my work, which is something I don’t really get to do when I wake up early.” 

Fan also hopes to use the day off as a de-stressor. “I think right now, everyone kind of needs a break. Although it’s asynchronous work it’s still nice to just have a day off,” she said.

While students will stay home for tomorrow, Swift says that the district hopes the virtual day will allow some time for the schools to manage their staff shortages.

“Taking this step to remote learning with these three schools that were most critically impacted by staffing challenges will allow the AAPS to redeploy substitute personnel to assist with the shortage of staff across other buildings and stretch the resources to staff the remaining schools,” said Swift.