Detroit Public Schools are scheduled to open their doors Monday for the start of summer classes.
It will be the first time schools will welcome back students for face-to-face instruction since the district closed in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Superintendent Nikolai Vitti said he sees a “desperate demand” for in-person learning, and that online teaching isn’t a “one size fits all” approach.
“The online learning wasn’t ideal and our children have fallen farther behind,” Vitti told CNN.
Vitti said that online instruction puts additional stress on working parents and could continue to leave behind thousands of students who don’t have the family support to navigate virtual learning.
The district adopted a $23 million plan to ensure digital access for its student population of more than 50,000. Every K-12 student will have a device and internet access, Vitti said.
On Monday morning students and staff members will answer questions on a health form and have their temperature checked. They will be required to wear masks, and social distancing will be a priority.
Detroit schools are also disinfecting classes and buses daily and accepting fewer students per class.
Some 4,000 parents signed up for voluntary summer school. More than half chose face-to-face instruction. About 300 teachers signed up for 180 spots to teach in person.
“We need to be flexible and listen to what works for each family,” Vitti said.
Vitti said it’s best to offer both virtual and in-person instruction.
Teachers will work a full school day, dividing their time between online teaching and in-person instruction.
Vitti said the state’s largest school district is “well positioned to fund additional safety measures for the fall.” DPS can buy personal protective gear for every student and staff member, implement training and use temperature check machines and mandated masks.
Michigan has seen about 75,000 Covid-19 cases, including more than 6,200 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Some teachers have legitimate health issues and should have the option to teach online for their well being,” Vitti said.