Newaygo school closure blamed on illness, staffing shortage

Newaygo County

NEWAYGO, Mich. (WOOD) — Newaygo Public Schools says its closure for the rest of the week is linked to illnesses and an associated staffing shortage.

“We have tremendous families that support our district, and we know this has been difficult us them and that weighs on us when we try to make the decision,” Superintendent Jeff Wright told News 8.

The district announced Monday it would shut down Tuesday through Friday. Monday, Nov. 15, was already going to be a day off. The goal is to get kids back in class Tuesday, Nov. 16.

In a letter to parents, the district said the closure was due to “illnesses (including COVID and others) and some circumstances beyond our control” that were leading to staffing problems. There weren’t enough substitute teachers to help fill the gap.

“We did not have enough to cover the classes,” Wright said. “As we look at the number of staff members that are out, we are fairly confident … that we will come back on Tuesday, but doggone it, we sure are hopeful.”

Explaining why the district simply go virtual for a few days rather than canceling classes outright, the district said it “does not have connectivity, parental consent documentation, or the ability to transition back and forth from in person to virtual learning.”

For now, the days off are being counted among the school’s six allotted snow days. The district said it’s still figuring out if it will have to make up days. It’s possible the state Legislature could forgive extra days against mandated instruction time, but so far there has been no talk of that in Lansing. Newaygo Public Schools said it would keep parents updated on whether there would be make-up days and when.

During the closure, high school students can still get buses to and from the county career technical education center, which is still in session. Sports are continuing. Elementary parent-teacher conferences have been rescheduled for Nov. 18 and Nov. 22.

The district is also making meals for kids available to be picked up at the high school from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday.

Earlier this year, Newaygo had to cancel bus service because of a shortage of drivers.

—News 8’s Heather Walker contributed to this report.

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