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Detroit school district switches to all-remote classes due to COVID-19 spike

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News

Michigan's largest school district said Thursday it is temporarily halting in-person classes and moving to online learning due to the rise of COVID-19 cases in Detroit.

Effective Friday, all face-to-face instruction will be suspended until Jan. 11, the Detroit Public Schools Community District said. All classes will be held online beginning Monday.

“The district relied on science and the data to reopen schools for in person learning this summer and fall and relied on the same criterium to decide that it was no longer safe for our students and employees to work in an in person school environment," Nikolai Vitti, the district's superintendent, said in a statement.

Dr. Nikolai Vitti, Superintendent of Detroit Public Schools Community District, talks to kindergartener Yovani Arreguin, 5, about his work on the first day of classes at Harms School in Detroit.

Detroit's school district joins a growing number of school systems switching to remote learning as COVID-19 cases spike in Michigan. Last week, districts in Grosse Pointe, Berkley and Bloomfield Hills made the change.

MoreCOVID-19 surge has Grosse Pointe, Berkley, Bloomfield Hills among school districts going all-remote

Detroit school district officials said the decision to temporarily suspend in-person learning was made in collaboration with the city’s health department. The city infection rate was nearly 5% last week and has been increasing this week, according to officials.

On Monday, the city had 94 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services; Detroit’s daily case counts had been consistently below 50 from August through October.

The district also said it will consider reopening learning centers before Jan. 11 if COVID-19 rates in the city improve, district officials said in a statement Thursday.

In the meantime, face-to-face learning centers will remain open Thursday and Friday to give families time to arrange educational support for students.

Five-year-old Byran Castaneda of Detroit looks out through a window in the entrance door at Harms School as he waits for the start of classes on the first day of school at Harms School in Detroit on Tuesday, September 8, 2020.

Additionally, learning centers can be used Monday if parents can't make adjustments to childcare over the weekend. 

"As we have been doing throughout this pandemic, we will continue to adjust to serve our students and families by expanding direct technology support for families while also continuing to feed students,” Vitti said.  

The Detroit Public Schools Community District has more than 100 schools and serves 51,000 children.

Twitter: @CharlesERamirez