Detroit teachers raise concerns after COVID outbreak in football team

10 students infected with COVID ahead of school year

An outbreak at Renaissance High School within the football team has caused concern among some Detroit Public Schools Community District teachers.
An outbreak at Renaissance High School within the football team has caused concern among some Detroit Public Schools Community District teachers.

DETROIT – An outbreak at Renaissance High School within the football team has caused concern among some Detroit Public Schools Community District teachers.

More: Detroit schools strengthen COVID protocols ahead of fall semester

“This is a whole new ballgame,” said teacher Nicole Conaway. “Delta has changed everything.”

According to DPSCD’s tracker, 10 students were infected with COVID a week before the start of school.

“We have a school administration right now that keeps saying the schools are safe,” said teacher Benjamin Royal. “‘It’s safe to come back and we can do face-to-face, we can do it safely,’ and that’s just not true. Classes haven’t even started. There’s already an outbreak in the schools.”

These teachers want to go back to a virtual option until vaccination rates rise. As of Friday, only one in three eligible students have been vaccinated ahead of the 2021-22 school year.

Read: Tracking Michigan school districts, colleges requiring masks for 2021-2022 school year

“I can give COVID to one of my students that are vaccinated,” said teacher LaVar Johnson. “And that’s the seriousness of what we’re talking about. What person wants that hold their conscience?”

In a statement released Friday afternoon, the district said “All football players at Renaissance have been tested multiple times and all are quarantining unless they have tested negative and are vaccinated. Those players who are not vaccinated will not attend school until the quarantine period has ended.”

But the concerned teachers said the outbreak should be taken seriously as the school year begins.

“I hope it sends a clear warning message to all students and all parents demand that virtual option now,” Conaway said. “Don’t accept no for an answer.”

DPSCD received more COVID funding than any other major school district in the country. At the time, superintendent Dr. Nikolai Vitti expressed concern and frustration that a large chunk of the money would have to go to COVID protections since Detroit’s vaccination rate was so low.

The school year is expected to begin Sept. 7.


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About the Authors:

Grant comes to Local 4 from Oklahoma City. He joins the news team as co-anchor of Local 4 News Today weekend mornings and is a general assignment reporter.

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.