Detroit schools closed through Wednesday so employees can be tested for COVID

George Hunter
The Detroit News

Detroit — Detroit Public Schools Community District superintendent Nikolai Vitti announced Friday the cancellation of all in-person and online classes Monday through Wednesday so employees can be tested for COVID.

The decision, which was announced on the district's website, was made "due to the city's all-time high rate of infection at 36 percent," Vitti said in the statement.

"This high rate of infection will inevitably mean that a return to in person learning on Monday ... with nearly 8,000 employees and partners and nearly 50,000 students will lead to extensive COVID spread placing employees, students, and families at risk along with excessive staff shortages due to positive and close contact scenarios," Vitti said.  

The statement added: "This is especially the case with an overall low rate of vaccination within the city and among students."

Vitti said employees will be required to take a COVID test on Monday and Tuesday, "and we encourage all students to test as well," she said.

"We simply cannot go online districtwide Monday, January 3rd because all of our students do not have laptops," Vitti said. "The district will announce plans for Thursday and Friday on Wednesday afternoon or evening."

In a separate email to students Friday, Vitti said: "DPSCD has been a leader in promoting and protecting in-person learning. We know this is the best way for our students to learn and maximize their education.

"However, we have also been a leader in using science and data to make hard decisions during this pandemic," he said, adding calling for 'universal masking and weekly COVID testing ..."

The move comes as other schools move online and as Michigan reported a daily record number of COVID-19 cases Wednesday with 25,858 reported over two days. The state's largest counties, clustered in Metro Detroit, are seeing the highest rates of infections.

According to numbers released by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the state recorded more COVID-related deaths in 2021 than in 2020. 

The agency reported reported it had tracked 13,943 deaths tied to the virus in 2021 compared to 13,034 the year before. In 2020, the first COVID-19 deaths weren't tallied until March.

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Twitter: @GeorgeHunter_DN