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Reed City, Morley Stanwood School Closures Highlight Substitute Teacher Shortage

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Two local schools made the decision to close Thursday after teachers and staff were forced to quarantine following positive cases in the district.

They couldn’t find enough substitutes to hold in-person class.

Morley Stanwood Superintendent Roger Cole says a handful of staff members at the district recently had to quarantine. That, combined with several teachers already scheduled to be off Thursday and an ongoing shortage of substitute teachers, lead to the decision to close school for the day.

“Today (Thursday) was not closed because of a mass outbreak, today we closed because we didn’t have enough grownups in the building. Replacing one, or two or three isn’t bad, but replacing 10, that doesn’t work,” Cole said.

It was a similar story for Reed City Middle School: staff under quarantine and difficulty finding subs on short notice. Doug Pratt with the Michigan Education Association says the coronavirus pandemic has only put a brighter spotlight on the challenges districts face finding both teachers and substitute teachers.

“This is a problem both in the pandemic and in the long term. We need to respect our educators, we need to listen to their expertise and we need to make sure we’re putting everybody’s health and safety first and foremost,” Pratt said.

Back at Morley Stanwood, they say learning didn’t stop Thursday despite the doors to the school being closed.

“We closed the building but we didn’t stop teaching today so as feasible as we can we’re instructing, we’re teaching. High school is going the look different from elementary, middle school is going to look different from both but today we’re not at school but we’re having school as best we can,” Cole said.

Both schools plan to be open Friday.

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