DETROIT – The Detroit Public Schools Community District and its teachers have reached an agreement to return to classrooms for in-person learning under updated COVID safety standards.
The district and Detroit Federation of Teachers announced Monday morning (July 26) that the agreement will continue many of the protocols implemented during the 2020-21 school year. DPSCD said those protocols allowed schools to effectively minimize the number of COVID outbreaks before there was access to vaccines.
“We are all excited to have our students back in schools and classrooms in the fall,” DPSCD Superintendent Dr. Nikolai Vitti said. “As a district, I am proud that we did everything we could to meet the needs of our employees, students and families during the most difficult times of the pandemic. Everyone did their part to keep each other safe and supported.
“This agreement signals that we are all on the same page to restart our reform efforts that had great momentum before the pandemic. With a much-needed infusion of one-time federal COVID relief funding, we will be able to effectively address absenteeism, learning loss, mental health and many of our long-term facility needs.”
A key provision of the agreement is the continuation of the joint Labor Management Committee on Schools Reopening. The committee will meet weekly to review reopening issues and review pandemic-related data to make recommendations on future action, officials said.
Up to $2K in hazard pay
The agreement also gives teachers and auxiliary staff members hazard pay of up to $2,000, as well as another $2,000 if teachers need to work with students in a blended learning environment -- in-person learners coupled with online learners.
DPSCD’s fall 2021-22 reopening plan aims to continue in-person learning while also offering a new and separate virtual school, according to the release. It includes paid sick leave for any DFT member who contracts COVID while working in-person or who is asked to quarantine.
A teacher who is asymptomatic while quarantining will continue to teach remotely, DPSCD officials said.
The safety guidelines in the agreement include:
- COVID-19 student and employee training.
- Mandatory weekly COVID-19 testing for non-vaccinated staff
- Daily symptom and temperature checks for students and staff.
- Sanitizing wipes and sprays, face shields, gowns and gloves will be given to teachers and staff. Air purifiers and fans will be provided upon request.
- Desks that are placed 3ft apart to encourage social distancing in classrooms with small class sizes based upon the agreement and room size.
- 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.
- Access to the COVID-19 vaccine.
“As a board, we understand it is time to make the necessary provisions to ensure all students can return to their classrooms this fall,” DPSCD Board of Education President Angelique Peterson-Mayberry said. “We believe our protocols are proven to work and we applaud our students and teachers who have demonstrated we can effectively perform seemingly difficult tasks. We thank the DFT for their partnership and willingness to stand with us, students first.”
DPSCD is hosting a back-to-school expo Aug. 28 and encouraging families to schedule school tours to get used to the protocols. Anyone with questions can call DPSCD at 313-240-4377.