DPSCD and Detroit Federation of Teachers reach deal to reopen schools

Vote allows union to call strike if negotiations break down with district

Detroit Public Schools Community District and the teacher's union has reached a deal to reopen schools after voting to strike last week.

DETROIT – An agreement to reopen schools was reached between the Detroit Public Schools Community District and the Detroit Federation of Teachers.

The announcement was made Friday, a little over a week after the union voted to potentially strike. The agreement recognizes the need to provide learning and teaching options for students/teachers during the COVID-19 pandemic adhering to safety standards, protocols, and a joint commitment to monitoring implementation.

“We are living in difficult times. It is our hope that through this agreement we can now collectively own the reopening of our schools to best serve our children and families while ensuring the safety of our employees,” said superintendent Dr. Nikolai Vitti. “The need to serve our children never stops. Even in a pandemic, we need to find ways to best serve and support our children. For some of our families and students, this means face-to-face instruction and for others it is online learning.”

Schools are expected to reopen Sept. 8.

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A joint Labor Management Committee on Schools Reopening has been established that will meet weekly to review reopening issues and review pandemic related data to inform any recommendations to leadership regarding the plan to ensure commitments of safety are implemented with fidelity.

Nearly all schools will offer some level of face-to-face instruction, even if most teachers and students will function online at particular schools. This will be done to honor families who asked for face-to-face instruction and teachers who requested this form of instruction.

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All schools will also be open as learning centers. This will allow students to attend school daily, receive breakfast and lunch and login to facilitate online learning.

The DPSCD said it has procured millions of dollars in Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) and supplemental cleaning services prior to the start of the school year using state and federal COVID-19 funding.

The safety guidelines include:

  • COVID-19 student and employee training.
  • Employee COVID-19 testing.
  • Daily symptom and temperature checks for students and staff.
  • Required use and distribution of masks for students, teachers, and all staff. Sanitizing wipes and sprays, face shields, gowns and gloves will be given to teachers and staff.
  • Desks that are placed 6 feet apart to encourage social distancing in classroom with the maximum of 20 students in a class.
  • Safety directives and reminder signage throughout all school buildings.
  • Deep cleaning of classrooms and buildings as well as administrative checks on cleaning results and regular review of procedures.
  • Ample supplies of hand sanitizers as well as hand sanitizing stations.
  • Contracted nurse on duty at each school.
  • Deep cleaning, masks and social distance seating on school buses.
  • Limiting access to schools by the public as well as having isolation areas for those who feel ill.

The District is continuing to enroll students in preparation for the upcoming school year by encouraging all families to update their contact information and, in cases where families can’t be reached, teams are performing door-to-door visits. For more information on the reopening of schools, visit the official DPSCD website here.

Detroit schools and the Detroit Federation of teachers have reached an agreement on new school year.

About the Authors:

Dane is a producer and media enthusiast. He previously worked freelance video production and writing jobs in Michigan, Georgia and Massachusetts. Dane graduated from the Specs Howard School of Media Arts.