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Detroit school district to reopen learning centers Feb. 24

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The Detroit Public Schools borough is set to move to face-to-face classes with the reopening of its learning centers on Feb. 24, officials said Monday.

The decision was based on “the city’s positive infection rate (COVID-19), which remains at current levels of 5% or below,” the district said in a statement.

In November, Michigan’s largest school district temporarily halted face-to-face lessons and switched to online learning amid rising COVID-19 cases in Detroit.

Since then, according to the district news release, “the number of students participating in some form of face-to-face learning after being suspended before mid-November has decreased by nearly 12 percentage points”.

“Through our home visits and contact with families and students, we know that too many families and students struggle with closed schools. The challenges range from childcare for working families to access to food and the need for direct support with learning, ”said Superintendent Nikolai Vitti.

“Our survey data among families shows that the demand for face-to-face learning has nearly doubled to 40-50% since late fall. We will always use data and science to keep our students and staff safe in this pandemic. With a positive infection rate in the city at a constant 5%, we can start providing families with what they need by reopening learning centers. At the same time, we will continue to respect our families’ choice to leave their students at home for online learning. “

With the centers reopening, students will be able to have breakfast and lunch, enroll in online learning, and receive support from school staff, including administrators, educational assistants, and substitute teachers.

Meanwhile, “the district has pledged to resume face-to-face learning with teachers once the city’s positive infection rate is well below 5%,” officials said Monday. Once this level is reached, teachers can elect to return to class for the current school year under an agreement with the Detroit Federation of Teachers. Employees must retest COVID before returning to work.

“The hope is that this can begin in early to mid-March,” said the district’s press release. “This will provide enough time for all returning teachers to be retested, whether or not they received the vaccine.”

The planned reopening of the Detroit borough’s learning centers came on the same day that in-person dining in Michigan restaurants resumed after more than two months with a 25% capacity limit.

In the past few weeks, Michigan has reported fewer new COVID-19 cases per population than neighboring states with weaker restrictions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Michigan added 2,066 new cases of the coronavirus and eight deaths on Monday, including cases from Sunday. The latest numbers bring the total confirmed coronavirus cases to 561,307 and deaths to 14,609, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services.

The state recorded 12,535 new cases and 487 deaths last week, compared with 16,452 new cases and 430 deaths the previous week.

At the end of November, the state set the weekly record of 50,892 cases. The weekly record of 808 deaths was recorded in mid-December.

The data on hospital stays, tests and new cases went in hopeful directions last week as the state appears to be moving past a second wave that arrived in late November. The percentage of COVID-19 tests with positive results decreased to 6.2% from 6.7% the previous week.

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