Checking in with parents, students as fall semester begins for Detroit public schools

Severe weather, pandemic concerns disrupt first day of school in Metro Detroit

DETROIT – After a long, uncertain summer for schools around Metro Detroit, the first day back was disrupted by severe weather and ongoing concerns about the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The first day of school is often celebrated with photos at home before students head to the bus stop and fill classrooms to meet their new teachers. But that wasn’t the case this year.

Tuesday was noticeably different as students in the Detroit Public Schools Community District headed back after the summer. DPSCD schools aren’t as full this year, with some parents opting to keep their children at home for virtual learning.

READ: Detroit public schools scramble to prepare for start of uncertain semester

This is a first for school districts all over Michigan, as nobody truly knows what to expect.

Severe weather and power outages greeted the first day of school in metro Detroit. Whether children were preparing to learn in person or virtually, there was a mixture of emotions.

“Nervous,” parent Nicole Katrinas said. “Very nervous. I didn’t think there was going to be school today.”

“I’m excited because I’m ready to get out of the house anyway,” eighth-grade student Dimonn Rushing said.

Some parents said they’re just downright frustrated.

“I can’t get access to pick up the Chromebooks,” parent Brittany Johnson said. “Nobody knows when we’ll be able to pick up the Chromebooks. I can’t get access to anybody to speak to. I just got off the phone with the principal.”

The decision to go online versus returning to in-person learning was a difficult one for many parents. Some made the decision for their children, while others left it up to the student.

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“I would have been asleep at home,” student Trae’Vion Meadows said. “I couldn’t do it at home. I have to be engaged with the teacher.”

Some parents said they encouraged their children to take all the necessary precautions while entering school buildings for the first day. They said they’ll make adjustments as they see fit.

“He doesn’t have any allergies, any pre-disposed illnesses, so we said, ’Why not?’” parent Roslynn Nix said. “He’s healthy, so a little exposure can boost the immune system.”

“Keep her mask on, no contact, no giving friends hugs, even though she wants to,” Katrinas said.

“I’m going to try it out the first semester and go from there because I can always go virtual after,” mother Alejandra Duran said.

There are still a few details to work out for DPSCD, according to parents. But for now, everyone is finding out what works best for their family and seeing what happens next.

About the Authors:

Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.