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Detroit schools superintendent: We are not in a position or need to cancel school at this point

school bus
school bus

DETROIT – The superintendent of Detroit Public Schools Community District released a statement Wednesday explaining why students and staff in his district are not in a position to cancel in-person meetings over the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Superintendent Nikolai P. Vitti said virtual learning is not an option for his district right now. Here is his statement:

“In addition to the emails I have already shared with you and the letter that was due to go home to students’ families last week, I wanted to provide you with additional information about our position on growing concerns with COVID-19 (Coronavirus), especially in light of the Governor’s ‘State of the Emergency’ declaration last night. The Governor rightfully made this declaration, however, her intent was not to create fear or panic but to ensure that local health authorities and health care providers receive the resources and assistance needed to address the virus through state and federal funding. We are not in a position or need to cancel school at this point. As you know, “online learning” is not an at scale option for the vast majority of our students and families. However, as a district, we are committed to ensure your health and safety and that of our students.”

Vitti said the district is stepping up cleaning and disinfection work.

“Additional supplies of hand soap and disinfectant solutions were also ordered and soap levels are now checked more frequently throughout the day. If this is not happening, then please inform the building principal and use the accountability measures I outlined in my last email," he wrote. “In addition, we have cancelled all student study aboard trips for the spring/summer. All previously approved in and out of county travel is proceeding unless employees and/or students who were due to participate have indicated that they no longer feel safe to travel. At this point, we have no intention of discontinuing our participation in ongoing sport/academic tournaments or spring sports/extra curriculum activities.”

On Wednesday, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan announced the city has partially activated its Emergency Operations Center to monitor the COVID-19 developments. At this time, the EOC is minimally staffed but will be ramped at such time there is a confirmed case in Detroit, he said.

In light of Gov. Whitmer’s recommendation that large public gatherings be canceled, the city has consulted with the organizers of the St. Patrick’s Day parade, who have made the decision to cancel this year’s parade to reduce the opportunity for anyone to be exposed to COVID-19.

Other upcoming large public gatherings are being reviewed, as well, to determine whether it is in the interest of public health and safety for them to be canceled or postponed.

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