Detroit students return to summer school Monday despite backlash from some teachers

Posted at 5:44 AM, Jul 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-12 05:44:04-04

(WXYZ) — Students and teachers in Detroit will return to the classroom for summer school on Monday, but a group of educators disagrees with the move.

Those educators are demanding virtual instruction through the fall, concerned about Detroit's low COVID-19 vaccination rates.

Last year, a protest took place outside of Detroit's Mackenzie Elementary School as members of the group "By Any Means Necessary" (BAMN) demonstrated against the district's decision to offer in-person learning. They're speaking out again.

"There will be a COVID explosion if we continue to push people in and say it's OK," L.C. Bulger, a Detroit schools special education aide.

The district says summer school is voluntary for teachers to take part in. BAMN feels the return is too soon, and wants the vaccine mandated.

"We're not safe just because some percentage of the population is vaccinated, it has to be everybody and the reopening needs to be held off until that is the case," DPSCD Teacher Benjamin Royal added.

As of right now, 38.1% of Detroiters 12 and up have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

On Friday, the CDC stated students and teachers no longer need to wear masks in schools unless they're not vaccinated. In that case, the CDC says they should also maintain 3 feet of social distancing.

"I don't want a virtual infrastructure for the rest of our lives, I don't want that," Arlyssa Heard, a parent, said.

The teacher's union says it's still negotiating terms for the fall and is making sure safety measures are in place. However, they too want students back in the building.

"Again, many of our members are ready to go back to work so they themselves have taken those precautions as far as vaccination," the union VP Lakia Wilson-Lumpkins said.

The Detroit Federation of Teachers says they are also working with the district on a contract for an online school.