Detroit schools close through Wednesday for COVID-19 testing

Dr. Nikolai Vitti, superintendent of Detroit Public Schools Community District, speaks during an interview outside Cody High School in Detroit on Friday, Aug. 20, 2021. In the wake of new federal pandemic funding, the district plans to add mental health services in dozens of schools, but its being done through a contractor. Even the building improvements will only be temporary if the district does not get additional funding to maintain them, he says. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio) (Carlos Osorio, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

DETROIT – All Detroit schools will be closed through Wednesday during the first week of January so that teachers and staff can be tested for COVID-19 amid a statewide spike in cases.

The Detroit Public Schools Community District announced Friday that the district was canceling all in-person, online and virtual learning classes Monday through Wednesday for the testing effort.

District superintendent Nikolai Vitti said the decision announced on the district’s website was made “due to the city’s all-time high rate of infection at 36 percent."

Vitti said employees will be required to take a COVID-19 test on Monday and Tuesday, “and we encourage all students to test as well,” she said in a statement.

“We simply cannot go online districtwide Monday, January 3rd because all of our students do not have laptops,” Vitti added. “The district will announce plans for Thursday and Friday on Wednesday afternoon or evening.”

The district's move came as other schools are moving online and as Michigan reported a daily record number of COVID-19 cases on Wednesday with 25,858 reported over two days. The state’s largest counties, clustered in the Detroit metropolitan area, are seeing the highest rates of infections.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services said the state recorded more COVID-related deaths in 2021 than in 2020. The state agency said it had tracked 13,943 deaths tied to the coronavirus in 2021, compared to 13,034 the previous year.