Student demand for in-person learning far outweighs the number of teachers willing to return in Detroit

All schools, grade levels will return to classrooms; online option still available

DETROIT – A little more than 40% of Detroit Public School Community District (DPSCD) students want to return to in person classes starting Monday.

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

That amounts to about 20,000 children, but Detroit teachers willing to return to the classroom are only about at 20-30%.

“I’d be lying if I weren’t disappointed,” said DPSCD Superintendent Nikolai Vitti. “As a leader I think it’s always important to protect the organization and the people within the organization, but I also think it’s important to speak truth to when you do not feel you are meeting the mark on the student side and family side because that is who we serve.”

Vitti is encouraging parents to send their children back to school but only about 1,000 -- mainly younger students -- will have in person classes. Others will have a mix of in-person and online, but thousands will be in school and still learning on a laptop in a structured setting where meals will be served.

Detroit Federation of Teachers President Terrence Martin says the majority of his membership is not ready to return.

“Many of our teachers still have a level of fear and not being totally comfortable with a return to face-to-face instruction,” Martin said.

This is not a vaccine issue. Detroit teachers were moved to the head of the line and anybody wishing to have the vaccine has had access.

“We’re going to need services relative to trauma, we need mental health services,” Martin said. “We need services that are good to help us get through what we’ve gone through, what we’ve all gone through.”

Vitti is hopeful, as is Martin, that once teachers see all the COVID-19 mitigation efforts in place more will return. Constant cleaning, a max of 20 children per classroom, masks and social distancing, plus an extra $750 per quarter for teachers willing to return to the classroom.

In the beginning Vitti says, “There will be a disconnect between family demand for in person learning and teachers willing to teach in person.”

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