Eastpointe Middle School goes virtual this week due to teacher shortage

By: Maria Allard | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published September 20, 2021

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EASTPOINTE — Three weeks after Eastpointe Community Schools students began the 2021-22 school year full time and in person, one of its schools is going virtual this week due to a staff shortage.

The sixth and seventh graders who attend Eastpointe Middle School will not be in person this week, but will attend school virtually Sept. 20-24. School officials are hopeful that students will return in person Sept. 27.

“We’re hoping to be able to be back next Monday face to face depending on the staffing situation,” district Communication and Marketing Coordinator Caitlyn Kienitz said. “We hope this is going to be really short term so the students don’t lose their learning time. We know our kids need to be face to face.”  

The reason for the change is due to a number of staff resignations that created the staff shortage. According to Kienitz, the teachers either left the district to pursue other teaching opportunities or left the teaching profession entirely. An exact number of how many staff members resigned was not available at press time. 

“All districts are having trouble finding teachers,” Kienitz said. Other positions — including bus drivers, paraprofessionals and cafeteria staff — have been difficult to fill, but “teaching is the one you notice the most.”

Approximately 350-370 students attend the middle school. The district issued a mask mandate in which all students and staff have to wear masks all day to help avoid the spread of COVID-19. Kienitz said the students are being taught virtually by Eastpointe Community Schools teachers this week. The teachers are using the Google Classroom model to teach virtually.

“The kids are still getting all their core subjects,” Kienitz said. “They are rotating through their subjects. This way we know they are getting their curriculum and they’re getting their content with a live teacher.” 

The district has received calls from parents who were concerned that the school went virtual because of a COVID-19 outbreak and that the students needed to quarantine. But that isn’t the case. It’s the teacher shortage that prompted virtual learning this week.

“COVID has made the teaching shortage more apparent in the state and county,” Kienitz said. 

On Sept. 16, Eastpointe Community Schools Superintendent Ryan McLeod and Eastpointe Middle School Principal Stephanie Fleming distributed a letter to parents about the remote learning and staff shortage. Technology devices were made available to families in need of them.

In the letter, McLeod and Fleming stated that the district has a number of teacher, paraprofessional, bus driver and food service positions available. If interested, contact the Human Resources Department at comeworkwithus@eastpointeschools.org or (586) 533-3009.