Detroit public schools suspends face-to-face learning, goes virtual

Suspension of face-to-face learning to continue until Jan. 11, 2021

The Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD) will shift from face-to-face learning to online learning starting Monday, Nov. 16.

DETROIT – The Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD) will shift from face-to-face learning to online learning starting Monday, Nov. 16.

A district spokeswoman said Thursday that learning centers will remain open Monday, and possibly longer, for parents who will be shuffling to find child care.

Melissa Redmond is a single mother with a 13-year-old son. She is unable to work from home since she’s a professional caregiver.

With COVID rapidly spreading in Detroit, the state’s largest school announced Thursday they would be pulling the remaining 10,000 out of 49,000 students who were participating in its face-to-face model as DPSCD goes 100% remote until Jan. 11.

Superintendent Dr. Nikolai Vitti fought against the decision.

“I’m just uncomfortable with what this means,” Vitti said.

Suspension of face-to-face learning to continue until Jan. 11, 2021

When you’re the parent of a 13-year-old, you can’t leave the child at home alone and you don’t have help. School is not just a school, but child care. The learning centers that DPSCD set up for students was a life-saver.

“This wasn’t an easy decision,” Vitti said.

For the Cain family of five, remote learning has been a struggle. The father has given up two days of work to stay home with the kids and mom goes in late. The 16-year-old supervises school for her siblings as best she can while doing her own studies.

“It’s very tough,” Janine Cain said. “I’m not a teacher and it’s obvious.”

The family was looking forward to sending at least three of the children back to face to face learning Monday.

Actual school buildings will remain open, so parents have a place to go to find resources. Food will be distributed twice a week for all students. But without question, there is a concern for more students falling through the cracks and losing ground that will be difficult to make up.

Families scramble as DPSCD shifts to remote learning only.


What role are Michigan schools playing in spread of COVID-19?

From Local 4′s Dr. Frank McGeorge:

With many school districts in Metro Detroit and across the state of Michigan returning to remote learning, others have recently sent their students back to school.

Parents have been left to wonder what’s driving the vastly different decisions.

It’s a great example of a situation where one size doesn’t fit all. While masks are mandated in all Michigan schools, some have different abilities to reduce the spread of COVID-19 with smaller classes, more space, and better ventilation.

Parents, administrators, and community members want to know what role schools are playing in Michigan’s COVID-19 spike. While it’s abundantly clear that colleges have generated a high number of cases across the country, it’s not as simple for younger grades.

There have been outbreaks -- defined as two or more connected COVID-19 cases in people not of the same household -- in Michigan schools. Many have objected to the term “outbreak,” but essentially, it involves schools where transmission is documented or highly probable.

Michigan’s school outbreak list doesn’t include schools with students or staff members who have tested positive but haven’t appeared to spread the virus to others.

That’s a much more common scenario, which suggests the safety precautions are working in many districts. But experts don’t know how many asymptomatic cases are spreading.

Students have found younger children are more likely to be asymptomatic than adults. Without regularly testing students and staff members who don’t have symptoms, it’s impossible to know how often children are silently spreading COVID-19.

As the number of cases rises in a given community, the same can be expected for the schools in that community. As COVID-19 spreads more rapidly statewide, it’s reasonable to expect we will reach a level of spread in which in-person schooling is no longer practical.

School districts are trying to balance the desires of parents to have children in school and the fact that students learn better in person. Different districts have different risk tolerance and resources to reduce risk, which is why decisions shave been left up to local leaders.

More: Tracking coronavirus cases, outbreaks in Michigan schools

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.