Grosse Pointe teachers call out over disapproval of COVID-19 rule changes

Posted at 2:29 PM, Apr 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-28 18:18:17-04

(WXYZ) — It was a bumpy start to the school day at Grosse Pointe North High School, where many teachers stayed home to send a message to the district.

The move comes after one educator stepped down after a disagreement over the updated COVID policy.

Many parents have expressed frustration over classes being disrupted at the high school after many teachers called out.

“I’m frustrated but see both sides. Parents want to sent their kids to school, but the board is trying to keep things as safe as possible. It’s a no win situation,” said one parent outside of the school.

We’ve learned many students were taken into the auditorium at the high school to sit at distanced tables when teachers didn't show up after notifying the school they would not be in.

This also follows a heated Grosse Pointe Board of Education meeting and resignation of Sean McCarroll, a well known teacher & lacrosse coach who was critical of the board’s rules.

You can watch it below here:

McCarroll said eased restrictions are compromising safety, although they appear to follow federal guidelines.

A new resolution passed 6-1 reduces the quarantine period for anyone testing positive from 14 to 10 days, and reduces minimal distancing from 6 to 3 feet.

Parents tell us kids have asked for more in-person opportunities after a long break from the classroom and friends.

“It’s silly, these kids need to be in school. They miss it and their friends,” said another parent outside the school.

7 Action News has learned 116 total teachers called off today in the district.

In a statement to students and parents, Gary Niehaus, the district superintendent, expressed his disappointment with teachers today, but praised those who did come into work:

"Beginning late yesterday afternoon many GP North teachers submitted a one day absence for today, Wednesday, April 28th. While I am disappointed that many of our North teachers negatively impacted our students today by being absent, I am pleased at how we came together as OneGP and supported our North students during this unfortunate situation. Along with the North teachers and staff that came to work today, a team of central office staff, administrators from other buildings, North administrators, and other staff stepped in as classroom substitutes.

While this has been a difficult situation, I am proud that our students have been respectful and responsive in their classes today."

Teacher's Union President Christopher Pratt tells 7 Action News:

"The teachers of the Grosse Pointe School District, many of whom have invested decades to build GPPSS into one of the finest districts in the state of Michigan, ALWAYS put the interests of their students at the top of their priorities. That is why Grosse Pointe schools have earned a reputation of excellence.

The dedication of our teachers has created that educational excellence. From time to time, GP teachers need to use their leave time for themselves or their families. In light of this dedication to our students, we were very disheartened to read a statement from the superintendent sent to GP families today that publicly criticized our teachers who chose to use that leave time. That public criticism harms the already low morale of our teachers, who have worked very hard during this pandemic to keep teaching and learning on track whether in remote, hybrid or full face-to-face.Across the state, we are experiencing a severe teacher shortage. Teachers have many options among many districts to choose from. If GPPSS wants to continue to attract the best and brightest to teach in our district, it would be in everyone's best interest for the administration to refrain from attacking teachers for using leave time.The outstanding teachers of this district deserve better."