Superintendent cancels school on Monday, Nov. 1

COVID+infection+concerns%2C+low+staffing%2C+and+a+much-needed+break+for+staff+and+students+prompted+the+cancellation+decision.

Ari Jacob

COVID infection concerns, low staffing, and a much-needed break for staff and students prompted the cancellation decision.

Ann Arbor Public Schools Superintendent Jeanice Kerr Swift announced earlier today that the district would take Monday, Nov. 1, off from school, a shutdown that students and the community did not anticipate. With the following day, Tuesday, Nov. 2, already being a scheduled school closing day to accommodate city elections, district staff and students will have a four-day weekend.

Amidst rising COVID-19 infection concerns, and numerous district staff absences, Swift announced the surprise day off in a district-wide email late in the afternoon. The move has come after the district suffered major staff shortages due to illness, resulting in several schools closing for a day. “[We are doing this] in order to confidently and safely staff our buildings every day we are open for classes, and to provide some relief during this demanding fall for our students and staff,” said Swift in the email. The closure follows one-day returns to online learning for Skyline and Huron high schools and Forsythe Middle School last week and A2 STEAM at Northside earlier this week.

“I’m really glad that they decided to give us Monday off,” said Pioneer science teacher Barbara Schenk. “With the way this school year has gone, I just think that it should’ve come sooner. A day off is a day off and as a teacher you have to be flexible.” 

According to Swift’s statement, the Monday between Halloween and Election Day traditionally has a large number of staff and student absences. “We understand this situation will be exacerbated during this COVID time, and full staffing of operations for that day will present a significant challenge,” she said. The district often has not been able to find enough substitutes to cover staff absences since the school year started.

“Having the day off on Monday will provide students and staff with a much-needed break after a stressful first quarter,” said junior and Pihi Info manager Josie Hodges. “It’s a great chance to relax and enjoy the holiday, and to prepare ourselves for a strong quarter 2.”

Hodges noted, though, that the late notice will catch many by surprise. “Although I support Swift’s choice, I think that the late announcement could have been handled better, and it might cause problems for some parents,” she said.

Acknowledging the inconveniences the last-minute change in schedule may cause for families, Swift apologized in her email, but went on to state, “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.

“It has been a joyous time over these first eight weeks of school as we have opened our classrooms and schools fully to in-school learning this fall,” Swift continued. “Our students and staff are happy to be back together learning, and students, teachers, staff and leaders are settling into the rhythms of school, showing care and building relationships within our school communities each day.”