Detroit public schools shift to remote learning on Fridays in December for health amid rising COVID cases

District also also considers ‘greater vaccine requirements’ for staff and students

Dark classroom (Anthony Murdock, Anthony Murdock / WKMG)

DETROIT – The Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD) is shifting to online learning on Fridays in December for mental health relief amid rising COVID-19 cases, the district announced Wednesday.

Superintendent Nikolai Viti said in a statement that districtwide instruction on Dec. 3, Dec. 10, and Dec. 17 (all Fridays) will be shifted to online learning.

“We will follow the regular school schedule and time on these online learning days,” reads the statement from Viti.

Viti said his move was made “after listening and reflecting on the concerns of school-based leaders, teachers, support staff, students, and families regarding the need for mental health relief, rising COVID cases, and time to more thoroughly clean schools.”

Read: Why is COVID so bad in Michigan right now? Many potential factors at play

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The district also is considering “greater vaccine requirements” for staff and students. There is no vaccine mandate for teachers or students within DPSCD right now.

“With the recent vaccine approval for children ages 5 to 11, the district will move forward with greater consideration of vaccine requirements for employees and students,” reads a statement from Chrystal Wilson, a DPSCD spokeswoman. “The vaccine is the best way to ensure students can attend school daily and return home from school without passing COVID onto their families. Inevitably, this is the best way to ensure everyone’s safety and the need to create reliable learning schedules and patterns for students despite the ongoing and forever presence of COVID.”

Viti stressed the importance of 75% districtwide student attendance during these remote learning days.

“We must all work hard to ensure that we meet or exceed 75% districtwide student attendance on these three days or districtwide online learning days will not be a viable option for us the rest of the school year,” he wrote. “As a reminder, the state requires 180 days of instruction at 75% districtwide attendance or the district pays a funding penalty. We have met this districtwide threshold each school day since the first day of school in September.”

Meanwhile, Detroit’s Renaissance High School announced it will shift to remote learning until Nov. 29 due to the “high probability of related cases across multiple grade levels and programs.”

Related: Group says it plans to sue Gov. Whitmer, Detroit schools over vaccine mandate, masking, COVID testing