Detroit schools need 1,000 more teachers to continue in-person education

On Wednesday, the state of Michigan reported the highest reported cases of COVID-19 of the year. As cases surge upward, Detroit Public Schools Community District may temporarily dial back in-person learning due to staffing issues.

Dr. Nikolai Vitti spoke on Wednesday, saying staffing issues are leading to roadblocks for face-to-face learning in Detroit, causing Michigan's largest city to plan at least another week of students staying home in April.

"Because of the rising infection rate, and even beyond that, we will likely move to online learning the week after spring break and give our employees and students time to isolate," said Dr. Vitti. "Our plan is to resume in-person learning on the 12th."

Moving forward, leadership at DPSCD is working to get face-to-face learning back in session for all staff and students.

"19,000 families are not receiving the in-person learning they requested," said Dr. Vitti.

The problem, he said, is teachers willing to provide that face-to-face education.

"There are about 500 teachers working in-person right now to meet the 19,000 student demand, we need another thousand teachers to work in person," said Dr. Vitti.

The district is mapping out its next steps to navigate learning during a pandemic, appropriating money from the CARES Act, all while keeping everyone safe and reviewing options to get teachers back in the classroom.

"We certainly would be willing to increase the hazard pay if that’s what it took," said Dr. Vitti. "Talk more about testing - as I talked about today for employees and students - I think the vaccine is a factor in this, as well, about keeping people safe."

As for the teachers, the union says we can't stop now.

"We'll try to do our part but we cannot ignore that this virus is now raging again," said Detroit Federation of Teachers President Terrence Martin. "Any other changes have to be negotiated, we all know that the district has to come to the table with any change in work environment conditions or benefits that they'd like to offer and we are certainly willing to listen."

A Detroit Public Schools Community District student in class on March 24, 2020.