Teacher shortage prompts Eastpointe schools to move middle school classes online

Jennifer Chambers
The Detroit News

A severe teacher shortage at Eastpointe Community Schools is forcing the district to move its middle school students into remote learning this week.

District spokesperson Caitlyn Kienitz said as of Monday the district has 43 vacant teaching positions which is more than one-quarter of its entire teaching staff atthe Macomb County district.

Last week several teachers resigned to take positions elsewhere or leave education entirely, Kienitz said, and several teachers are on temporary leave for reasons ranging from maternity to National Guard duty.

Last week three teachers at the middle school also announced their resignation with no notice, Kienitz said. There should be 19 teachers in the building and 163 in the district, she said.

"Last year was a challenging year. This year there are a lot of challenges. Our students are coming in with more needs, there are COVID protocols," Kienitz said. "We started with open positions and when you have even a few people on regular leave and when you are adding on one or two resignations with no notice, it makes it very difficult."

A severe teacher shortage at Eastpointe Community Schools is forcing the district to move its middle school students into remote learning this week.

The district's 340 middle school students have devices and will learn from home through Friday using Google Classroom. Kienitz said the district's human resources staff has some teacher candidates in the pipeline they are hoping to make offers to this week.

"We know what our kids need: to be in the building face to face. We are working hard to fill the vacancies. We have devices for all of our students so they can be in front of a teacher all day," Kienitz said.

Michigan has been experiencing a teacher shortage for more than a decade.

Retirement data from the state show about 1,800 to 1,900 teachers retired every year from 2016 to 2019. In 2020, retirements were higher for 10 of the 12 months compared with the prior year, with 2,066 teachers retiring, up from 1,791 in 2019.

At the same time, fewer undergraduates are going into the teaching profession. The number of initial teacher certificates issued in Michigan remains down, creating a smaller pool of professionals to draw from.

jchambers@detroitnews.com