Detroit public schools shift to remote learning as COVID cases surge

District will open IT, homework and mental health hotlines

The Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD) will be all virtual learning through Jan. 14, the district confirmed Tuesday.

DETROIT – Leaders of the state’s largest school district, Detroit Public Schools Community District, made the call to keep all 50,000 students home until Jan. 14, in hopes the number of COVID cases will be down by then.

The announcement comes after classes were canceled so staff could get tested for COVID.

Read: Detroit Public Schools Community District goes all virtual through Jan. 14

“We just have to work through this difficult surge right now,” superintendent Dr. Nikolai Vitti said.

He said opening schools while the city has a 40% infection rate is an “operational nightmare” for the district.

Some parents understand safety measures have to be taken, but said their child learn better when in a classroom. The move could also be difficult for parents who aren’t working from home.

Vitti said he understands and wants students back in the classroom, but with the number of COVID cases in Detroit testing is not enough.

“Even if we see higher numbers like 10%, 15% (infection rate) we can stay open with 100% universal testing. The problem is when you’re at 40% the spread is so wide and so deep that inevitably you’re going to have positive cases,” Vitti said.

Another factor the district considers is Detroit’s vaccination rate.

“We’re below 50%, where other large urban school districts or cities, like Baltimore, Cleveland, DC, Oakland, are, you know, 70%, 80%,” Vitti said.

Detroit public schools will open IT, homework and a mental health hotline for families. Students who still need laptops to do virtual learning will be able to pick them up at their school starting Thursday.

Vitti said a vaccine mandate is likely for next school year, but right now they are focusing on testing every student. The district currently tests about 60% of their students a week. To further protect students, DPSCD will have a testing mandate for students starting at the end of January.

Click here to view the announcement to parents.

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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.