FARMINGTON, Mich. - Detroit schools will offer in-person learning to students beginning March 8, almost five months since the district went entirely remote.
FILE - A poster from the CDC in the hallway that says, "Please wear a cloth face covering" and "Maintain a distance of 6 feet whenever possible." (Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images)
The Detroit superintendent said the decision to reopen their learning centers was based on a low infection rate and the increasing availability of vaccines to teachers.
"When pandemic infection rates in the City climbed beyond the five percent mark in November, we made the proactive decision to suspend in-person learning until rates declined in order to keep our students and employees as safe as possible," said Superintendent Nikolai Vitti.
The return to learning is supported by the teachers union, which has come out against such options at previous periods throughout the pandemic.
"We continue to stand by operating in the best interest of the teachers, faculty, students, and their families. Teachers and families still have the option to continue virtually or participate in Face to Face," Detroit Federation of Teachers President Terrence Martin said.
The district had already announced plans to offer in-person learning in early to mid-March earlier in the year. It opened up learning centers to students that need resources offered by the district, like available lunches and faculty resources.
Under an agreement with the district, teachers working in classrooms are entitled to hazard pay for each semester they teach. Any employees returning to the district must test negative prior to entering one of the district's buildings.
As of right now, teachers won't be required to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Michigan is one of several states that have prioritized inoculating educators.
Detroit's announcement came the same day as Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's unofficial deadline for getting districts back open. A survey of Michigan school districts found about 97% planned on offering in-person learning by March 1.
However, DPSCD has said for several months that it would wait until the infection rate in the city was below 5% before considering sending students back to the classroom.