Ann Arbor schools announce 2-day closure ahead of Thanksgiving break due to COVID activity, staff shortage

Schools will be closed entire Thanksgiving holiday week

Ann Arbor Public Schools district offices.

ANN ARBOR – In an email to the Ann Arbor Public Schools community on Wednesday evening, Superintendent Jeanice Swift announced that all schools in the district will be closed Monday and Tuesday next week due to an “alarming increase in staff and student COVID-19 cases” and ongoing staffing challenges.

“As a COVID mitigation step to interrupt transmission and allow sick individuals to recuperate, we will amend the AAPS school schedule for next week, providing Monday and Tuesday, November 22nd and 23rd, as an extension to the traditional Thanksgiving school break,” wrote Swift.

AAPS’ regular Thanksgiving Break is scheduled for Nov. 24-26.

Swift said district officials “pursued every option available” to keep schools open next week, but a spike in COVID cases among staff and contractors since Friday is impacting all areas of operations, including classrooms, school buildings, food service, transportation and custodial.

Despite the closure of schools on Tuesday, Swift said AAPS will still host its student and family vaccination event slated for that day.

Read: Ann Arbor Public Schools hosting COVID vaccine clinics for students ages 5-18

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Michigan now leads the country in new COVID cases. The state’s current 7-day moving new case average is the highest on record with an average of 7,353 daily cases.

See more of Michigan’s COVID data here.

Read: Why is COVID so bad in Michigan right now?

As for the staffing shortage, Swift said the district is still struggling to find enough substitutes, despite increasing pay rates twice this fall. She added that the district typically sees a drop in availability during the the Thanksgiving holiday week each year.

In addition to a lean teaching staff, Swift said that low levels of transportation and food and nutrition staff may also affect schools for the remainder of the week. Many bus drivers will be doubling up routes and the district’s food and nutrition team has mobilized extra staff to ensure AAPS schools are supported through the end of the week, Swift said.

“Closing the district for these two days will place the AAPS at three district closure days out of the 58 days of school over the 12 weeks of this fall,” Swift wrote. “Michigan school districts are allowed six days of school closures each year. We will continue to monitor this situation very closely every day.

“We take these school closure decisions very seriously. I understand that this week-before notice will pose challenges for some of our families, and I sincerely apologize for this situation.”