Detroit schools make deal with teachers to reopen classrooms

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DETROIT (AP) – The Detroit school district reached a deal to start the new year, capping classroom size at 20 students, offering extra pay to teachers and checking daily temperatures of kids and staff, officials said Friday.

The deal occurred a week after members of the Detroit Federation of Teachers authorized a strike over coronavirus safety. Classes start Sept. 8.

“Even in a pandemic, we need to find ways to best serve and support our children,” Superintendent Nikolai Vitti said. "For some of our families and students, this means face to face instruction and for others it is online learning.

“This agreement signals we will work together to provide equitable education opportunities for our children and families,” Vitti said.

The Detroit Public Schools Community District is the largest in Michigan with roughly 50,000 students. Despite the agreement with the union, some teachers don't want to return to face-to-face instruction, citing the virus risk.

“Schools that open will become vectors of disease spread, and the spread won’t be limited to the schools. It will affect the entire community,” teacher Ben Royal said.

The district said teachers will have the option of teaching online, though nearly all schools with have some in-person instruction.

Teachers could earn an extra $750 per quarter, or $3,000 for the year, if they work in classrooms, the district said.