Metro Detroit school districts cancel classes or turn virtual to avoid ongoing spread of COVID-19

Posted at 6:56 AM, Jan 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-03 17:43:02-05

(WXYZ) — Several districts have made significant adjustments to their school plans to account for the ongoing spread of COVID-19.

Oak Park Public Schools is the latest to announce a change of plans alerting parents that there will be no school today and that classes will go virtual for the rest of the week.

They join Southfield, Ann Arbor, Pontiac, and Detroit public school districts that have also either already canceled classes or gone virtual

District officials say they want to get a real handle on infection rates before they let students and employees return to the classroom. They are using Monday through Wednesday as testing days. The result of the COVID tests will determine school plans for Thursday.

"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," the president of the Detroit Federation of Teachers Terrence Martin said.

And superintendents across Metro Detroit are taking similar actions to avoid the spread.

So far Southfield, Oak Park, Ann Arbor, and Pontiac public schools have decided to go virtual this week.

"The decision in itself was basically surrounding around just being safe," Pontiac's School Board President Gill Garrett said.

His district was one of the first to announce a delayed return last week. Their plan is to return to the classroom on January 18.

The Oakland County Health System has advised school districts to enforce mask mandates and offer testing to avoid infection spikes.

National infectious diseases expert Dr. Anthony Fauci says those tools along with vaccines should be enough to get kids back in the classroom.

"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.

In Detroit, all-district employees will also need to get vaccinated by February 18th. Officials say a vaccine mandate for students will likely take effect next school year.