Virtual learning remains up for debate at metro Detroit schools as omicron surges

Virtual learning
Posted at 10:10 PM, Jan 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-19 21:32:55-05

HARPER WOODS, Mich. (WXYZ) — The conversation on whether students should be in school or at home virtually learning continues.

Harper Woods School District is currently virtual, unlike many other districts in our area.

At a school board meeting on Tuesday, Superintendent Steven McGhee told parents that his main priority is to keep staff, students and the community safe.

Some parents aren't happy with his decision to keep students at home.

“My son was almost in tears when he found out he had to go back online," one parent said during the board meeting.

Another parent said, “You are doing them a dissatisfaction."

McGhee says the omicron variant is the reason students are out of school.

"We were originally supposed to come back, but we decided to go a couple more days because we know that the contagion is still rapid," he said.

For some parents, virtual learning is not an option, especially without child care.

“I have to work, so being told at the last minute is a slap in the face," Quiana Perry said.

While students in Harper Woods are out of class, teachers in Dearborn are petitioning for their students to be at home.

“We want to try and minimize the amount of spreading that can happen in schools because schools are such a large gathering place," Joseph Sicheneder said.

Sicheneder is a ninth grade biology teacher at Fordson High School.

He created a petition on with other teachers asking for a pause on in-person learning until the omicron wave has passed.

“The spread of omicron is so rapid that in the past two weeks, I had around 20% - 30% of students out at any given time," Sicheneder said.

In the petition, teachers are also asking for free weekly testing and appropriate personal protective equipment and a COVID-19 sick bank for teachers and staff.

“I for instance would if I was to get sick with COVID, I would burn through — as a new teacher in Dearborn — I would burn through my days quick," Sicheneder said.

He plans to present his demands to the Dearborn school board by the end of the week hoping for a better outcome.

As for some parents in Harper Woods, they're praying for the opposite.

McGhee says this Thursday, he will give parents an update on whether students will remain virtual or return to the classroom.

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