Just hours before the end of winter break, Southfield Public Schools contacted parents saying the district would delay the return to in person learning, due to rising cases of COVID-19.
They join a growing list of school districts including Ann Arbor, Detroit and Pontiac to close their buildings this week.
“The decision itself was basically surrounded around just being safe,” said Gill Garrett, President of the Pontiac School Board. "The numbers kept spiking.”
Pontiac was one of the first districts to announce their decision last week. They will be virtual only until January 18.
Garrett says all students have a chromebook at home, allowing them to go virtual.
However the Detroit Public Schools Community District says many of their students don't have laptops, so virtual isn’t an option. Instead they’ll be completely closed through at least Wednesday and will require all employees to be tested before making a decision on when to return.
“I think it’s going to take at least a week for us to get the testing done to get results back to get all the components necessary so folks feel comfortable and safe to return,” said Terrence Martin, President of the Detroit Federation of Teachers.
The announcements come after the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services sent a letter to all school superintendents urging them to take extra caution as they return from break, urging masking and offering testing.
On Sunday, Dr. Anthony Fauci appeared on ABC’s "This Week" saying he feels with those tools and vaccines, schools can open up.
“All of those things put together it’s safe enough to get those kids back to school, balanced against the deleterious effects of keeping them out,” Dr. Fauci said.
As the week goes on, these districts say they will continue to monitor climbing cases, hoping to get kids back in the classroom as soon as possible.
“There's a lot of learning loss when you go to virtual, lets just be honest about it," Garrett said. "However, it’s about keeping our kids safe.”
Detroit Public Schools Community District is offering free testing to students and staff at 10 locations including:
- Henry Ford High School
- Breithaupt Career Technical Center
- DCP at Northwestern (enter through the back of the school)
- Mumford High School
- Pershing High School
- Brenda Scott Academy
- Fisher Upper Academy
- Davis Aerospace High School
- Martin Luther King, Jr. Senior High School
- Western High School
The testing sites will be open Monday, January 3rd-Thursday, January 6th from 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. and Friday, January 7th from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. on a first-come, first-serve basis.