Teachers continue protests in Detroit hoping to nix in-person learning in the fall

The pandemic is prompting more calls to halt face-to-face instruction within the Detroit Public Schools Community District. 

A small group of Detroit public school teachers and supporters protested in front of the Fisher Building Thursday, demanding Detroit public scrap plans for in-person learning in the fall.

"We're saying, there's a pandemic right now that has community spread. If the schools open it will be spreading in the classrooms. The only safe thing for our students and teachers is to go to a completely online format this fall," said Benjamin Royal, a Detroit teacher. 

Thursday morning's protest was organized by a group of teachers calling themselves the EON/BAMN Caucus. It comes just one day after DPS teachers voted overwhelmingly to authorize a safety strike if certain demands are not met in regards to their COVID-19 safety concerns. 

The school district plans to provide online and in-person instruction in September. But the Detroit Federation of Teachers says 8-% of its members want to teach online.

"DPS is made up of ninety-something percent black and brown children. Those are the same children whose families and communities suffered most during this pandemic," said Detroit teacher Nicole Stuckey.

Superintendent Dr. Nikolai Vitti said he is confident the district, in discussion with the Detroit Federation of Teachers, will result in a safe re-opening of schools.

"I'm not going. That's the bottom line. I am not going to step foot in one school building or one classroom until this pandemic is contained and there's no more community spread and it's actually safe to be back in a classroom," Royal said. 

"I am furious that we are having this discussion, and I am furious that we have to come out here every single day and protest and raise our voices, but I'm committed to doing this until we shut this down. Because we are not having this in this city," Stuckey said.