by Scott McClallen
The state’s largest school district will temporarily shift to online-only learning starting Monday through Jan. 11 because of a rising COVID-19 infection rate in Detroit.
Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD) on Thursday announced the temporary suspension of all face to face in-school instruction after Friday.
Face-to-face learning and learning centers will remain open this Thursday and Friday to provide families time to rearrange educational support for students. Families who can’t arrange childcare over the weekend can also use the learning care center Monday.
The suspension of face to face learning will continue until Jan. 11, but learning centers could reopen sooner depending on Detroit’s positivity rate.
DPSCD made the decision in collaboration with Detroit’s health department.
The decision follows an earlier agreement between the School Board and Superintendent Nikolai Vitti that pulled back on in-person learning if the rate of infection approached five-to-seven percent.
Detroit’s infection rate was near five percent last week and is rising.
“The District relied on science and the data to reopen schools for in person learning this summer and fall and relied on the same criterium to decide that it was no longer safe for our students and employees to work in an in person school environment. Without a vaccine, we will remain accountable to that 5-7 percent infection rate,” Vitti said in a statement.
Vitti praised DPSCD staff who’s work provided over two months of in-person learning.
“This has allowed us to keep schools open for in person learning and access to our learning centers with a limited number of outbreaks as compared to other districts and schools throughout the state,” Vitti said. “Despite the reality of COVID-19, we have been able to keep employees and students safe and serve them directly if their families needed that level of support. As we have been doing throughout this pandemic, we will continue to adjust to serve our students and families by expanding direct technology support for families while also continuing to feed students.”
All district schools will remain open for now to support families with additional devices and educational materials, technology support, phone calls, serving meals, and medical support.
Three meals will be distributed from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Mondays and four meals from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursdays.
The district’s homework, technology and mental health hotline will stay open.
On Dec. 1, the district will open 12 technology hubs across Detroit to provide face-to-face technology support for online learning and device repair and replacement.
The district also will begin to provide COVID-19 testing at designated locations for families, students and staff.
The DPSCD Board, through its chair, Iris Taylor, said the school’s priority is safety.
“All decisions are made with students’ best interests at the forefront and in consultation with health authorities. We ask everyone to follow the guidelines of the health authorities, wear your masks, wash your hands, stay home when you are not feeling well and continue to educate others around you,” Taylor said in a statement.
“We are acutely aware there is more work to do, we are identifying better ways to support families during these unprecedented times. Please continue to share your input. We want to specifically thank the Detroit Health Department for ongoing guidance, readiness, and support. We ask the community to continue to share your ideas, philanthropy, and volunteerism to help us stay 100 percent focused on the individual needs of each child. We are committed to supporting your students rise!”
Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square. A graduate of Hillsdale College, his work has appeared on Forbes.com and FEE.org. Previously, he worked as a financial analyst at Pepsi.