Detroit public schools to resume in-person learning on March 8

All grades at all Detroit schools to move back to classrooms as virus spread slows

Hand sanitizer, wipes, and surgical masks rest on a desk in a fourth-grade classroom, Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021, at Elk Ridge Elementary School in Buckley, Wash. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren) (Ted S. Warren, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

DETROIT – After months of virtual learning induced by the coronavirus pandemic, Detroit public schools announced that classes will return to in-person learning at the beginning of March.

In a letter to families, Detroit Public School Community District (DPSCD) officials announced that all grade levels at all schools will resume face-to-face learning beginning Monday, March 8. Students do still have the option to continue with online learning even as schools reopen amid the pandemic.

Officials say Detroit teachers also have the option to continue teaching online, and if they do, their students can still choose to learn at school instead of at home.

“Offering in person learning is not new to the district or your child’s school since schools were open this past fall. Safety guidelines include the wearing of masks, deep daily cleaning of schools, classrooms and busses, and the taking of daily temperature and symptom checks. Schools and classrooms have ample soap and hand sanitizer. All schools have nurses and safety checks are conducted in schools weekly for compliance,” reads DPSCD’s statement to students and their families. “All classrooms will follow social distancing protocols outlined by the CDC including 6ft social distancing, daily cleaning check and no more than 20 students in a room. Smaller classrooms will have fewer students. All schools meet the CDC standard for ventilation. All teachers and staff reporting to the building will have received a negative COVID-19 test.”

Earlier this week, Detroit public schools reopened learning centers in the city following COVID-related closures, allowing students to learn remotely while in a classroom setting. Officials said they are taking necessary steps to keep students from getting COVID-19 and that most of the staff has been vaccinated against the virus.

“I’m not worried about outbreaks. We’re gonna have positive cases, so that’s gonna happen. That’s a reality,” said DPSCD Superintendent Nikolai Vitti. “But if we wear our masks, we socially distance, I’m not worried about schools being places where we’re gonna have lots of exposure.”

Related: Educators weigh in on standardized testing during COVID pandemic

In January of this year, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer “strongly encouraged” Michigan public schools to reopen for in-person learning by the beginning of March.

Public schools in Michigan were shut down during the fall due to a surge in COVID-19 cases. Their buildings have been closed since about November, when the state was reporting thousands of new COVID-19 cases each day.

“With proper mitigation strategies, we can send kids back to class without compromising the health of our communities,” Whitmer said.

Read: 20 reasons Gov. Whitmer gave for Michigan schools returning to in-person learning

Whitmer’s administration prohibited face-to-face learning for high schools in mid-November to help curb the spiking coronavirus cases.

Now, research shows that more than 80 percent of Michigan school districts planned to offer some form of in-person instruction in February, which represented a more than 20 percentage-point increase over the previous month amid a decline in the coronavirus’ spread.

More: Education coverage

About the Author:

Cassidy Johncox is a senior digital news editor covering stories across the spectrum, with a special focus on politics and community issues.