ANN ARBOR – Ann Arbor Public Schools students will start the month of January with virtual remote learning due to the latest COVID surge driven by the omicron variant, the district announced on Friday.
In an email to the AAPS community, Superintendent Jeanice Swift noted an “extraordinary increase in COVID cases across our Ann Arbor community, higher than at any prior time during this pandemic.”
Swift announced that classes will be virtual Wednesday through Friday and students and staff are anticipated to return to school on Monday, Jan. 10. A virtual Town Hall will be held on Wednesday at 6 p.m. to serve as a forum for community questions. The district will also provide an update to the situation during the event.
“This modification in the schedule for a return from winter break will allow time for critical steps, including closely monitoring AAPS case data and addressing staffing impact, to mitigate concerns exacerbated by the current COVID-19 Omicron surge,” wrote Swift, who said that staff illness resulting in absences continues to impact the district.
In her email, she said substitutes will be added to classrooms in the coming weeks to help fill the staffing gap and that Monday and Tuesday will serve as days for school staff to finalize preparations for three days of virtual learning next week.
As cases continue to spread in the community, Swift urged vaccination and boosters for all who are eligible. AAPS has requested to offer ongoing vaccination clinics in partnership with MDHHS for students ages 5-18 and staff.
Swift also urged students, staff and families to “organize a back-up plan to support a transition to temporary, remote virtual learning” during times when COVID cases are surging locally.
“We will continue to take appropriate steps to support the health and safety of our students and staff, and this includes, when necessary, a temporary shift to remote, virtual learning,” she wrote.
More information will be shared soon to assist families will difficulties with connectivity at home. Food distribution sites for students will also be shared in the coming days, said Swift.