Detroit, other metro schools opt to go virtual as COVID-19 cases skyrocket

Students of the Detroit Public Schools Community District will attend classes virtually when they return Thursday and continue online learning through Jan. 14, officials said Tuesday.

The state's largest school district joins a growing number of schools abandoning in-person plans as COVID-19 cases reach record numbers fueled by the omicron variant.

Last week, the district's superintendent said all in-person and online classes would be canceled through Wednesday to enable employees to be tested for COVID-19. Testing requirements remain in effect, the district says.

"Unfortunately, the city’s infection rate continues to climb and now has exceeded 40% for a seven-day average," Chrystal Wilson, a spokeswoman for the district, said in a statement. "Once the city’s infection rate decreases to more normal levels, then we will resume in-person learning." 

She said students will follow their regular schedule for online classes.

In addition, eligible students will be able to pick up laptops for classes from noon to 4 p.m. at their schools Thursday or 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday. They may also pick them up from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday and Tuesday of next week. 

All laptops must be returned when in-person learning restarts.

The district says some district personnel will need to report to work in person starting Thursday, including clerical staff, contracted and district school nurses, security guards, greeters, food and nutrition staff, parent outreach coordinators, bus attendants, contracted engineers and custodians, and ESE paraeducators.

Several other districts in the metro area have moved to virtual learning for at least a few days to try to minimize the spread of COVID-19. Southfield Public Schools will hold classes remotely through Friday, according to an announcement on the district's website. 

Oak Park Schools is doing the same, saying in a Facebook post that the district hopes doing so "may decrease the risk of a significant spread in our district community."

The Pontiac School District will be online until at least Jan. 18.

Lansing schools will be online through the end of the week. In Ann Arbor, students had a delayed return from their winter break, with the district opting to return remotely on Wednesday instead of in person on Monday. The district said in a statement it hopes to return to in-person classes on Monday.

Some districts are still returning as normal, although they have advised families that things may change. In Royal Oak, classes are continuing in person, but administrators noted in a letter to families on Sunday that because substitute teachers are in high demand, schedules may need to be altered from time to time.

Twitter: @CharlesERamirez

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