Minnetonka High School shifted to distance learning Friday due to an intense staff shortage.
In a letter to Minnetonka High School parents, Principal Jeff Erickson said the school had 18 teacher absences on Thursday, the day he sent the letter. This forced other teachers to cover those classes.
“We have also combined a few classes today due to staff shortages. We are at a point where the absences are significant enough that we have to hit pause and shift to a synchronous e-learning day for Friday, January 7th,” said Erickson, who noted that many of the staff absences were “related to COVID.”
Students were still able to opt-in to working in the high school, but they were supervised only by paraprofessionals and needed to fill out an online form in advance.
The new plan means students began “each class with their teachers in a Google Meet.” However, there were still a “number of teachers ill, who [were] unable to provide instruction during their class,” and instead posted work online for students to complete by themselves.
In a December 2021 survey, Minnetonka High School students said they were struggling with self-motivation, keeping up in school, and mental health challenges under the district’s “Safe Learning Plan.”
Other school districts, such as the Minneapolis Public Schools system, have been struggling with teacher absences. According to Superintendent Ed Graff, the Minneapolis school district is averaging between 200 to 300 teacher absences every day.
“It’s utter chaos. It’s been all year long,” said Greta Callahan, president of the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers.
Megan Olson is a 2020 graduate of the University of Minnesota with degrees in political science and history. She works in public affairs in addition to serving on the Legislative Advisory Council for School District 196. She is also on the school board for FIT academy, a charter school in Apple Valley.