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Detroit Public Schools Weigh Remote Learning

The Detroit Public Schools Community District has asked board members to consider a shift to part-time remote learning.
Posted at 7:14 PM, Nov 16, 2021

COVID-19 cases are increasing at an exponential rate — causing health concerns and staffing problems. The idea is that going remote one day a week could perhaps help with both. 

Seven Action News has learned the Detroit Public Schools Community District sent an e-mail out Tuesday morning — asking school board members for their input. School Board Member Sherry Gay-Dagnogo says it asks: Should the district go to remote learning on Fridays for a period of time?  

"Making sure we do what is necessary and securing the safety of all of our students and staff,” Gay-Dagnogo said. “That will require looking at an alternative scheduling model.” 

Terrence Martin is the President of the Detroit Federation of Teachers. He says the number of staff sick with COVID increased 260 percent to 52 sick in just one week. The result: Many more are quarantined and there are not enough teachers and support staff to cover all tasks. He says one day remote could allow for a deep cleaning and slow the spread.  

“We’re hoping with one less day of face to face contact that can help control the spread,” Martin said. 

Interim Medical Director at Detroit Health Department Dr. Robert Dunn, M.D. says what is happening in the schools reflects what he is seeing happen around metro Detroit. But Detroit is at risk of getting hit harder because 42.5 percent of residents are vaccinated — much lower than the state average of 59 percent.  

"We are concerned about that we’ve seen even in parts of the state that had a relatively high vaccination rate it doesn’t take a lot of new cases to overwhelm the health system and other parts of society,” Dunn said. 

The health department is working with schools to provide vaccinations for free to anyone over 5 years old who wants a shot.