Many families and staff fear they won't feel comfortable returning to school when it reopens

Empty classroom covid-19
Posted at 6:26 PM, May 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-27 18:26:41-04

WEST BLOOMFIELD, Mich. (WXYZ) — There are about 5,700 students in the West Bloomfield School District. Of them about 50 children have lost either a parent or primary caregiver in their lives to COVID-19 according to the district.

There is no question such tragic losses were on the minds of teachers and families as they received a survey from the district.

“We surveyed our staff last week. And our parents, the survey went out last evening. We already have over 1,000 responses in less than 24 hours so it is something on everyone's mind,” said Deanna Barash, Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning West Bloomfield.

Barash says about 30% of both staff and families surveyed did not think they would feel comfortable returning to school in the fall. The district plans to do another survey over the summer to see how answers change over time for planning purposes.

“For me, when we talk about the rush to open things back up, I know there is a lot of discomfort in our community about that because we have been hit so hard. And I really have a lot of sympathy for our families and our kids who are going to come back to a completely different world,” said Barash.

That is why the district announced a plan last week. Unless something drastically changes in the fight against COVID-19, it will offer choices, either on-line learning or a hybrid program that allows social distancing as kids spend half their time in class.

The Bloomfield Hills School District also surveyed parents and staff. The results are similar. Only 73% of parents right now believe they will feel comfortable enough to send their child to school. For staff, 30 % are uncomfortable or extremely uncomfortable returning to school in person.

The Detroit Public Schools Community District tells 7 Action News it plans to send out a survey as soon as next week.

“The fear is by going to work every day you might bring something home to your family that is going to negatively impact their health,” said Terrance Martin, the President of the Detroit Federation of Teachers.

At least eleven Detroit Public Schools Community District staff members have lost their lives to COVID-19

Teachers are seeing the CDC guidelines, and wondering if meeting them is possible.

“Some of our classrooms, if we did what the CDC recommended we do, you might have 6,7,8,9 kids in a classroom,” said Martin. “What makes it extremely difficult in Detroit is we don’t have the resources to make a lot of these changes happen.”

School leaders say all of their costs are increasing as they work to implement safety changes. They hope this is remembered as the talk in Lansing is that cuts are coming due to a budget crisis caused by the virus.

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