Detroit schools reopening plan includes $2,000 hazard pay, virtual learning option, testing for unvaccinated

Detroit schools' return to the classroom for the upcoming year of learning will look a lot like how the previous cycle ended; lots of safety protocols and hazard pay for teachers.

The district's 2021-22 school year will focus on in-person learning with an option for a virtual learning protocol as well. 

Additionally, desks will be spaced apart and there will be mandatory COVID-19 testing for non-vaccinated staff. The district also plans to open access to the COVID-19 vaccine to any students and staff eligible for the shot but haven't gotten it yet.

Guidelines for the fall start to the school year were announced following an agreement that was reached between the school district and the teachers union. "The agreement will continue many of the protocols and systems implemented last year when the District effectively opened schools before access to the vaccine with a minimum number of outbreaks," read the release.

"Everyone did their part to keep each other safe and supported,"  said Dr. Nikolai Vitti, Superintendent of Detroit Public Schools Community District. "This agreement signals that we are all on the same page to restart our reform efforts that had great momentum before the pandemic. With a much-needed infusion of one-time Federal COVID Relief funding we will be able to effectively address absenteeism, learning loss, mental health, and many of our long-term facility needs."

Among the biggest changes in policy is available hazard pay for teachers. Teachers will earn up to $2,000 in hazard pay and another $2,000 for teachers that work with students in a hybrid work environment.

Teachers that contract COVID-19 or are asked to quarantine will be paid with sick leave. Teachers that quarantine and are asymptomatic will continue teaching remotely. 

The district also plans to implement daily symptom and temperature check-ups for students and staff while making personal protective equipment available.

Masks and social distancing measures will also be in effect on school buses, which is already a federal mandate from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

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Desks will be placed three feet apart and social distancing will be encouraged in classrooms.

"We believe our protocols are proven to work and we applaud our students and teachers who have demonstrated we can effectively perform seemingly difficult tasks," said Angelique Peterson-Mayberry, DPSCD Board of Education President. "We thank the DFT for their partnership and willingness to stand with us, students first." 

The agreement also mandates that a committee will meet weekly to review the policy and build on recommendations as further guidance is provided.