Detroit public schools suspending all in-person classes due to rising COVID-19

Detroit public schools is suspending all in-person learning, effective Friday due to the rapid increase of COVID-19 in the city and around Michigan.

All classes will switch to a remote format beginning Monday, Nov. 16. 

The district said in a statement it plans to keep face-to-face learning and learning centers open for the remainder of the week, giving families enough time to rearrange schedules if needed.

The temporary suspension of in-person classes will last until Jan. 11. The district said, "if positive rates in the city improve then the District will consider reopening learning centers before that date."

COVID-19 has been rising around the state for the last month, hitting several regions at different rates. Despite Metro Detroit being among the most populated areas in the country, the infection level has remained lower than other parts of Michigan.

However, due to the infection rate approaching a 5-7% threshold, the superintendent said the district would discontinue in-person instruction.

“The District relied on science and the data to reopen schools for in-person learning this summer and fall and relied on the same criterium to decide that it was no longer safe for our students and employees to work in an in-person school environment. Without a vaccine, we will remain accountable to that 5-7 percent infection rate,” said Nikolai Vitti, Superintendent, DPSCD.

Questions over whether the district should even allow in-person learning boiled into protests and lawsuits over the summer when teachers, parents, and other faculty argued the district was putting students in harm's way by holding in-person learning. 

However, Vitti moved forward with the plan, following a judge's orders to mandate COVID-19 tests for students prior to coming to class. The superintendent said the district still plans to expand support for technology allowing students to learn remotely, and it would also still feed students.

Contrary to much of the state, COVID-19's increase in Detroit looks less severe. While the city was among the earliest hot spots in the country for the disease, it has since slowed transmission since early summer. 

The COVID-19 new cases and death trends in Detroit. (Courtesy of MDHHS)

The COVID-19 new cases and death trends in Michigan. (Courtesy of MDHHS)

Data from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services shows striking differences in the rate of increase in COVID-19 in Michigan vs. Detroit.