News Bite

Teachers Union: Vast Majority Of Students Should Stay Home In Detroit Until Pandemic Is Over

They would cancel in-school classes for coming school year, and maybe next year too

The Detroit Federation of Teachers says the vast majority of union members should not return to school until Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has declared that the coronavirus pandemic is over.

The union wants to limit in-person instruction to special needs students only and then just when the state has moved to stage 5 of a plan the governor has devised for reopening Michigan. Currently, just the northern regions of Michigan are in stage 5. The rest of the Detroit students would stay at home until the metro region moves to stage 6.

Stage 5 is described as "Containing: Epidemic levels are extremely low and outbreaks can be quickly contained. Health system capacity is strong with robust testing and tracing. Most businesses can reopen given adherence to strict safety measures."

Stage 6 is described as “Post-pandemic: Community spread is not expected to return (e.g., because of a vaccine) and the economy is fully reopened.”

It’s not clear who would be considered “special needs students” permitted to obtain in-person instruction in stage 5. The Detroit Public Schools Community District has 7,397 students with disabilities in 2019-20, or about 15% of the entire student body.

The Goodman Institute for Public Policy Research reports that the fastest vaccine development ever was four years, for Merck’s MumpsVax in the 1960s. It cautions against expecting a coronavirus vaccine to be widely available before the summer 2022.

The Detroit Public Schools Community District is in line to receive $85.1 million in federal COVID-19 relief money. That is nearly 25% of the amount all Michigan public schools have been approved to receive.