By WCCO-TV Staff

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Minneapolis Public Schools will temporarily move to all-online learning starting Friday due to significant staffing issues.

Students will return to in-person instruction on Jan. 31.

Superintendent Ed Graff said the aggressive wave of the virus has “severely compromised” the district’s ability to run in-person education. On Wednesday, 400 licensed teachers were absent due to illness, and the district was only able to fill 45% of those roles.

Typically, 200 teachers are absent around this time of year and 90-95% of those positions are able to be filled, Graff said. The absences do not include office staff, elementary support, special education support, or bus drivers.

RELATED: Minnesota School Districts Grapple With COVID Surge And Bus Driver Shortages

Challenges also extend to student attendance. Graff said that some of the district’s high schools reported a 60% student absence rate last Friday, and he’s heard concern from parents about the spread of the virus in schools.

The plan to move to online learning was announced Wednesday afternoon, and Graff hoped it will allow students to gather their materials and families some time to prepare for the shift.

Friday will be a “somewhat flexible” day to allow for students and teachers to re-acclimate to the online learning environment. Staff will spend the day connecting with students and troubleshooting technology issues. Then on Tuesday, after Martin Luther King Jr. Day, school will have a “more traditional” schedule.

Graff said the ability to offer support is “really going to be a challenge,” so families are encouraged to keep their children at home. However, students do have the option to still come to school and complete their online learning in the building with support staff, which is a requirement under state law. Transportation will still continue, and meals will be provided on-site. Families learning at home can still pick up bagged meal kits.

Other districts around the state have also temporarily shifted to online learning. Osseo Area Schools are online until Jan. 24. Richfield, Roseville, and Farmington schools also have all announced plans for online learning.