Michigan hit a record 6,940 new confirmed coronavirus cases Thursday. Here’s how schools in southeastern Michigan are reacting to the second wave.
DETROIT—Detroit Public Schools will not be holding in-person face-to-face classes until 2021, a district spokesperson said Thursday.
From Monday, Nov. 16 to Monday, Jan. 11, Detroit Public Schools will be conducting classes exclusively online. As a courtesy, the district is allowing students for whom alternate arrangements can’t be made in time to go to learning centers Nov. 16.
“All classes will be held online starting Monday, Nov. 16 due to the rapid increase in the COVID-19 infection rate in Detroit,” a statement from the district read. “The suspension of face-to-face learning will continue until January 11. If positive rates in the city improve then the district will consider reopening learning centers before that date. This decision was made in collaboration with the city’s health department.”
This announcement came on a day when Michigan again broke records for new diagnosed coronavirus cases, reaching nearly 7,000 according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
“The district relied on science and the data to reopen schools for in-person learning this summer and fall and relied on the same criterion to decide that it was no longer safe for our students and employees to work in an in person school environment,” Detroit School Board and Superintendent Nikolai Vitti told WDIV. “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.”
Detroit’s transition to virtual only is one of the myriad ways Michigan’s school districts have handled the pandemic. Teachers in Kalamazoo told The ‘Gander that they have been virtual throughout the year, while teachers in East China, Michigan have reported to The ‘Gander their school district refuses repeated calls from teachers to make the transition Detroit made Thursday. Adrian, Michigan stands between the two, with teachers and students both selecting whether they will conduct learning in person or remote, teachers told The ‘Gander.
This patchwork of policies is the result of the compromise plan to resume education in the fall reached by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Republicans in the state legislature. It allowed each school district extreme latitude in charting a course through the pandemic.
The overall trend in southeast Michigan, where all three districts are located, is to follow the same course as Detroit, according to reporting from WDIV.
Detroit’s approach is fully supported by the district’s school board.
“This pandemic is a challenge we are working through alongside all of you,” board chair Iris Taylor said in a statement. “We are listening and making the necessary adjustments to uphold our commitment to provide the best public education option for Detroit’s students and that their opportunity is equitable for every family during this pandemic and beyond.”
WDIV also reports that though by and large Michigan schools have made decisions that have provided a baseline of safety during the pandemic, this is not universally the case. There have been multiple outbreaks at schools, including a school for special needs students in Marysville, Michigan, and it is hard to know how many asymptomatic students are spreading the virus.