Day 2: Protestors continue blocking buses as Detroit summer school opens amid virus

Posted at 4:51 AM, Jul 14, 2020

DETROIT (WXYZ) — There's another call Tuesday morning to “block the buses.”

A second protest is happening on the city's west side over Detroit schools holding in-person summer classes.

Tuesday morning’s protest comes as a local group claimed victory Monday – no bus leaving the terminal, which they spent most of the morning blocking with their bodies and then with large tree branches.

7 Action News crews even saw a couple of bus drivers say they were quitting. Still, the district’s superintendent is standing strong – saying in-person summer classes are needed for the families that requested it – and that it can be done safely.

This group of protesters say it’s too soon to send kids back to class – that the public health risk isn’t worth it.

“Detroit school kids cannot be used as guinea pigs to find out what will happen when you start school classes, it’s unacceptable," said one protester.

Critics are back out in front of the Detroit school’s bus terminal Tuesday morning, hoping to again stop drivers from getting to their routes.

Meanwhile, Superintendent Dr. Nikolai Vitti says the district is doing the right thing to support students and families – tweeting this photo of students on Monday – sitting far apart, learning from a teacher wearing a mask. He said 500
students were taught face-to-face.

“I do understand that parents and students have to be serviced, but I would like to see more emphasis placed on strengthening the district’s distancing learning program," the union president said.

Summer school is voluntary for students, and teachers. Dr. Vitti said some 300 teachers applied to fill the 170 in-person positions for this summer.

The chairperson for protest group By Any Means Necessary (BAMN), one of the groups organizing these protests – posted to Facebook plans to file a preliminary injunction in the court of claims – aiming to stop the district from opening 23 school buildings for its first week of in-person summer school.

“There should have been a foot put down, children’s lives in danger," said Todd Weems, a bus driver who quit his job Monday.

The district told 7 Action News on Monday they would adapt and make sure kids were able to get to school today – it’s still unclear how big of an impact Monday's actions had on student turnout.

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