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DPSCD returning with in-person summer school, some teachers want virtual-only learning

Posted at 10:28 PM, Jul 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-11 22:28:01-04

DETROIT (WXYZ) — One year ago, members of the group By Any Means Necessary, known as "BAMN," protested the district’s decision to offer in-person learning. This week, they’re renewing that call again.

“There will be a COVID explosion if we continue to push people in and say it’s OK,” said EON/BAMN Caucus member and DPSCD employee L.C. Bulger.

Some students and teachers are returning this week for in-person summer school, which the Detroit Federation of Teachers says is voluntary for teachers to take part in. BAMN feels the return is too soon and wants the vaccine mandated.

“We’re not safe just because some percentage of the population is vaccinated, it has to be everybody," said EON/BAMN Caucus member and DPSCD teacher Benjamin Royal. "The reopening needs to be held off until that is the case.”

"The COVID vaccine has to be required for children to return to school, and until it’s available, school needs to remain virtual for everyone,” added EON/BAMN Caucus member and DPSCD teacher Nicole Conaway.

But some parents like Arlyssa Heard say it’s time for a return. Her son, who has ADHD, struggled with virtual learning last year.

"I don't want a virtual infrastructure for the rest of our lives," Heard said. "Now as we are getting a little bit safer, there are more precautions we can take. I want my son back in school because that’s where he thrives the best.”

The union representing Detroit teachers is still negotiating terms for the fall and is making sure mitigation measures are in place. However, they too are ready for a return.

"Many of our members are ready to go back to work, so they themselves have taken those precautions as far as vaccination," said Lakia Wilson-Lumpkins, Executive Vice President of the Detroit Federation of Teachers. "It will be good to have the students back in the building getting re-acclimated and meeting teachers and administrators for the first time tomorrow.”

While the Pfizer vaccine is only available for kids 12 and older, the company could be ready to seek approval for children as young as five by September. BAMN feels the district should wait.

"There's absolutely no reason to have students in schools this summer, to have students in school buildings in the fall, when it’s just a matter of waiting a few more months for those vaccines to be ready and distributed,” Royal said.

However, for parents like Heard, she doesn’t want to wait any longer. She plans to have her son vaccinated and is ready for him to get back to school.

“Those that want to stay virtual, let them. Give them that option," Heard said. "But there's a lot of us whose children need to be in the classroom.”