With new teachers hired, Eastpointe will restart in-person middle school classes

Jennifer Chambers
The Detroit News

A Metro Detroit middle school that closed for in-person learning due to a severe teacher shortage is bringing its students back after it hired three new teachers in a week.

Officials at Eastpointe Community Schools announced on Friday that sixth- and seventh-grade students who were moved into remote learning at home on Monday, Sept. 20 will return to face-to-face learning on Monday, Sept. 27.

The middle school serves about 340 students who continued to receive live daily instruction from Eastpointe teachers. District Superintendent Ryan McLeod said there is no magic bullet that will fix the nationwide teaching shortage overnight, but his district has additional teacher candidates in the pipeline to address its remaining 40 vacant positions.

There should be 19 teachers in the middle school building and 163 in the district, district spokesperson Caitlyn Kienitz said.

"We continue to work tirelessly to support, retain, and attract staff members to work in our schools and support the learning of our students,” McLeod said.

Officials at Eastpointe Community Schools announced on Friday that sixth- and seventh-grade students who were moved into remote learning at home on Monday will return to face-to-face learning on Monday.

"We would always prefer to have our students learning in our classrooms, and we’re looking forward to seeing our students in person again,” McLeod said. “We greatly appreciate our students and families for their patience and understanding this week.

Kienitz told The Detroit News earlier this week that it has 43 vacant teaching positions which is more than one-quarter of its entire teaching staff at the Macomb County district.

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

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