Judge: Detroit’s in-person summer school classes can continue with virus testing

Students must get COVID-19 tests

Fight over in-person summer school in Detroit heads to court

DETROIT – A judge has ruled the in-person summer school classes can continue in the Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD).

While the judge has decided that the classes can continue, all of the students attending those classes need to have COVID-19 tests or the in-person learning could be shut down.

Local 4 and ClickOnDetroit are working on getting reaction on the ruling from the district.

Summer school in the DPSCD began last week. A lawsuit was filed by parents, teachers, students and activist group By Any Means Necessary (BAMN) against the district. The suit was seeking to sop summer school and first went before the judge on Friday with the decision expected this week.

Meanwhile, protests over in-person summer school in Detroit have continued for a second week. Protesters were out Monday morning at a school bus yard near I-96 and the Southfield Freeway. They were also out Tuesday morning. The protesters do not believe students and teachers should be taking part in any kind of in-person schooling -- voluntarily or otherwise -- amid the coronavirus pandemic.

They have been blocking buses from leaving yards to pick up students. This has led to many arrests over the past week.

“There are students in those schools that are being exposed to the virus to take home to their parents and their grandparents. There are teachers in that school who are exposed to the virus to take home to their sons and their daughters, and neighbors. No. This needs to come to a halt now,” said an attorney representing the group.

Superintendent Nikolai Vitti said the district is following all CDC guidelines and stresses summer school is completely voluntary.

“For a lot of our parents, they need us,” said Vitti. “Children aren’t learning at home. Our children need structure, they need activities, they need goals. They need to interact with one another. COVID is not going away, and right now we’re on a path to go back to school and this is what that looks like.”

In light of the judge’s ruling, Vitti released the following statement:

“Although we are opposed to the federal judge’s order we will comply to provide our students and families with the face-to-face (F2F) instruction services that they are legally entitled to receive through Detroit Public Schools Community District’s summer school offering under MI’s Safe Return Phases. It is insulting to our parents that they must have their children COVID tested to receive public school services yet parents outside of the city can receive the same services without testing.

“We want to thank the City of Detroit for working with us to provide all F2F summer school students with free, rapid testing. Beginning this week, we will allow parents who made the decision to send their children for F2F summer school instruction to have their children COVID tested through a mouth swab, not nasal testing. These tests will be done at school to reduce the burden on parents if their consent is given. Results will be returned in 30 minutes.

“As a district, we were never completely opposed to student testing but continue to question the legal authority to require parents to have their child tested to receive public school educationally services, the inequity of requiring our students to test and other districts and schools not requiring the testing, and the burden it places on our parents who are already overwhelmed. The federal judge’s order essentially creates law that far exceeds federal and state safety expectations for students’ return to school under COVID.

“This order should serve as a clear wake up call to federal and state lawmakers that guidance regarding the reopening of schools must be coherent, funded, based on the best medical and health advice, and be legally binding or this maddening process of providing public school parents with educational options this fall, F2F or online learning, is headed for political and legal wrangling that will disproportionately impact our most vulnerable families and children.”

More: Inside Detroit summer school classrooms during pandemic

More: Share your thoughts, concerns about return to in-person learning

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