DETROIT – With Michigan schools getting a big boost in funding but vaccination rates short of expectations, a return to a normal school year might not be as close as we’d hope.
Detroit Public Schools Community District superintendent Dr. Nikolai Vitti was not shy about the challenges his district faces. While the rise in funding will do a lot of good, it would go further if more Detroiters got vaccinated.
“You know all of this pandemic has been a rollercoaster ride -- openings and closings, higher rates -- but I do believe we’re moving more and more I think the vast majority of our students are set it back in person,” Vitti said. “I’m very excited.
After passing the $17 billion for schools across the state, Detroit will see an increase in funding of about $27 million. That money could go a long way to help repair buildings, replace books and equipment and set the district on a better path forward. Unfortunately, the district is hitting a roadblock.
“Our families continue to be reluctant to be vaccinated,” Vitti said. “So if adults in Detroit are reluctant to be vaccinated, it highly doubtful that they’re going to have children vaccinated.”
As of Sunday, Detroit’s vaccination rate is about half the statewide total. Only 31% percent of Detroiters have received their first dose of a vaccine and just 25% are fully vaccinated. That means the school district will have to use some of their funds that would have gone to improving schools for testing, PPE and other precautions.
“If we were able to have more people vaccinated, we could then send their kids to school and feel safer. You wouldn’t have to spend so much money on testing, on equipment, on fans, those things,” Vitti said.
The district ahs been partnering with the state to hold vaccination drives and is planning to do more before the 2021-22 school year in order to make sure teachers, students and their families are safe.
“It probably means that those individuals are going to be wearing a mask when they come to school in the fall,” Vitti said.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is expected to sign off on the billions of dollars of funding when the bill reaches her desk.
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