Detroit schools want return to face-to-face learning by early March

Detroit's school district will reopen its learning centers in late February in preparation for a return to in-person learning as the state pushes for schools for a return to classroom teaching.

With the city now reporting a positive test rate of 5% for COVID-19 over seven-day averages, the district wants to start transitioning students and teachers back to schools.

The reopening will happen Feb. 24 and will provide direct support to families who need it the most, making available daily breakfast and lunches as well as Internet access and school personnel support. If all goes well, the district will move its instruction back to in-person by "early to mid-March."

The district will use the model it followed in mid-November prior to an explosion of new cases in the state in 2020 when it suspended learning indoors. The reopening of learning centers will be supported by administrators, clerical staff, paraeducators, aides, culture facilitators, and substitute teachers. 

"Our survey data among families demonstrate a near doubling of the demand for in-person learning since the late fall to 40-50%. We will always use data and science to protect our students and employees in this pandemic," said DPSCD Superintendent Nikolai Vitti in a release. "With the positive infection rate in the city now at a consistent 5% we can begin the process of providing families with what they need through the reopening of Learning Centers."

Over the last two weeks, the city's positive test rate has been at 5% with some daily rates falling below that. 

If the rate remains "solidly below 5%" then the district will transition learning back inside by the end of March. 

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has said she wants every district to provide some form of in-person learning to students that need it by the beginning of March. 

Based on an agreement from the district's teacher union, educators will have the option to return to the classroom at that time with a $750 stipend in hazard pay per quarter. Anyone returning to teach must test negative for the coronavirus first. The district will provide free testing at schools through Henry Ford Hospital and Wayne State University.

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Survey data from the district indicate about 60% of DPSCD employees are planning on taking the vaccine. Teachers have been eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine since early January, however, finding one has been difficult.

The district currently doesn't not intend to mandate vaccines for returning to work.