Detroit schools will close on 3 Fridays next month amid Covid concerns

November 17, 2021, 7:52 PM

"Returning to in-person learning has not been easy," Detroit schools Superintendent Nikolai Vitti acknowledges Wednesday in a "special announcement concerning Covid-19."

His news is that the district shifts to remote learning on the first three Fridays next month -- Dec. 3, 10 and 17. "All school-based and central office staff, except those whose work cannot be completed from home, will work remotely on the designated days," Vitti says. After that, the district goes on a two-week holiday break until Jan. 3.

Nikolai Vitti: "In-person learning has not been easy." (Photo: Chalkbeat Detroit)

The decision is based "on the concerns of school-based leaders, teachers, support staff, students and families regarding the need for mental health relief, rising Covid cases and time to more thoroughly clean schools," the superintendent says in his statement. "All after-school programming will be canceled, but all sporting events will continue as scheduled."

The move comes amid a statewide pandemic resurgence and two weeks after a Covid outbreak shut Mumford High on the northwest side for the first five days this month. Transmission remains a problem there, with 16 new cases affecting students last week. 

Renaissance High just moved to remote learning until Nov. 29 "because we had multiple outbreaks identified in multiple grade levels," Vitti said in a separate statement Wednesday night.

Three other buildings -- Bates Academy, Central High School and Durfee Elementary-Middle School -- closed during the last week of October due to Covid outbreaks. The following week, according to Chalkbeat Detroit, the district reported 367 student and staff cases, with 857 students in quarantine.

Southfield Public Schools last month switched to remote learning on Fridays, partly due to staff shortages. Four West Michigan districts cancelled classes next Monday and Tuesday to give students the entire week of Thanksgiving off.

In Detroit, the Fridays without on-site education aren't a chance for long weekends, Vitti stresses. "We must all work hard to ensure that we meet or exceed 75% districtwide student attendance on these three days or districtwide online learning days will not be a viable option for us the rest of the school year," he notes.

Districts lose part of their state aid on days below 75% attendance, Chalkbeat explains.

Read more:  Chalkbeat Detroit

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