Count Day in pandemic: How Detroit public schools, parents are getting kids counted

New formula including students who are quarantined

The coronavirus pandemic has altered how count day works at Michigan schools.

DETROIT – Any other year, Count Day would be a day where millions of dollars would be hanging in the balance for Michigan school districts, but this time around is different thanks to the pandemic.

We previously reported one of the major changes is a new formula to divvy up the money.

Another change is how kids are counted.

More: Michigan school count day will use ‘super blend’ formula this time

“Any student who is being quarantined right now, we have special coding for them,” explained Angelique Peterson-Mayberry, president of the Detroit Public Schools Community District Board of Education. “So those who are quarantined and they are asymptomatic, they have the opportunity to learn through a hybrid version so they can log in. They’re still learning while their classmates may be in class, so they’re still learning. And for others who may not be feeling the best, they still are coded. So there’s a 30-day window that they return back, and then the funding is not affected.”

It’s still just as important for students to be counted in person.

Johnetta Burnett’s grandchildren attend Barton Elementary School in Detroit. After the death of her daughter in March, Burnett is raising her grandchildren.

“Rushing, getting five kids up and bringing them to school every day. I do it every day and pick them up,” said Burnett.

Count Day on Wednesday was especially difficult but they made it.

“It’s a lot, but it’s important today for them to be in school and be counted for,” Burnett said.

It’s important not just for the more than $8,000 in funding per child, but for that child’s future.

Watch: How 2021 count day in Detroit schools is different due to the COVID-19 pandemic

“We know that there are a lot of things that we can do with funding and resources and when those resources are available that we can provide more opportunities for our young people,” said Peterson-Mayberry.

Another Barton Elementary parent, Yvonne Robinson, said her daughter and many others didn’t learn as much last year because the distractions that come with working from home. For her, Count Day is a reminder of how valuable in-person learning is.

“I think it was very nice that the school opened up and let kids come back and I think the parents need to make sure that the kids are here, and on time to come to school every day,” said Robinson.

Peterson-Mayberry agreed that great attendance isn’t just for Count Day. The school district has an attendance challenge for Oct. 6-19. Students who attend all of their classes for 10 days straight can win prizes for themselves and their school.

“However we need to get you here, we want to get you here, and more importantly we want to keep you here,” she said.

Throughout Wednesday, schools across the district had fun incentives like pizza parties, a bike slow roll, a free dress day and more.

Oct. 7, 2020: COVID-19 pandemic makes traditional ‘count day’ for schools more complex than usual

About the Author:

Megan Woods is thrilled to be back home and reporting at Local 4. She joined the team in September 2021. Before returning to Michigan, Megan reported at stations across the country including Northern Michigan, Southwest Louisiana and a sister station in Southwest Virginia.