Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD) announced today it successfully reached a reopening of schools’ agreement with the Detroit Federation of Teachers (DFT) reflected in a signed Letter of Agreement (LOA). The reopening LOA recognizes the need to return all DPSCD teachers and ancillary staff to the classroom and schools for in person teaching and learning while adhering to updated COVID-19 safety standards. The agreement will continue many of the protocols and systems implemented last year when the District effectively opened schools before access to the vaccine with a minimum number of outbreaks.
“We are all excited to have our students back in schools and classrooms in the fall. As a district, I am proud that we did everything we could to meet the needs of our employees, students, and families during the most difficult times of the pandemic. Everyone did their part to keep each other safe and supported. This agreement signals that we are all on the same page to restart our reform efforts that had great momentum before the pandemic. With a much-needed infusion of one-time Federal COVID Relief funding we will be able to effectively address absenteeism, learning loss, mental health, and many of our long-term facility needs,” said Dr. Nikolai Vitti, Superintendent of Detroit Public Schools Community District.
One of many key provisions agreed to by the District and DFT is the continuation of the joint Labor Management Committee on Schools Reopening (CSR). The CSR will continue to meet weekly to review reopening issues and review pandemic related data to inform any recommendations to leadership regarding the plan. This is another layer of monitoring, accountability, and collaboration to ensure commitments of safety are implemented with fidelity. The agreement also provides teachers and auxiliary staff hazard pay up to $2,000 and another $2,000 if teachers need to work with students in a blended learning environment (i.e. in person learners coupled with online learners).
The District’s fall 21-22 reopening plan focuses on in classroom teaching by ensuring our teachers are back in their classrooms with students, however, there are provisions for a new and separately district operated Virtual School. The agreement provides additional support for any DFT member who performs work in person and contracts COVID-19 or is asked to quarantine by paying sick-leave. In the event a teacher is asked to quarantine and is asymptomatic, instruction will continue remotely to ensure continuity of student learning.
DPSCD is once again committed to the implementation of extensive safety measures to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus in schools. Although a vaccine is abundantly available for eligible students12 years of age and older, all adults, and access to COVID-19 testing, unless otherwise directed by law, the agreed upon strict safety guidelines will remain in place. The District will provide full Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) to include protective gowns, face masks, face shields, shoe covers, and gloves. In addition, supplemental cleaning services, room fans and air purifiers upon request.
The safety guidelines include:
- COVID-19 student and employee training.
- Mandatory weekly COVID-19 testing for non-vaccinated staff
- Daily symptom and temperature checks for students and staff.
- Sanitizing wipes and sprays, face shields, gowns and gloves will be given to teachers and staff. Air purifiers and fans will be provided upon request.
- Desks that are placed 3ft apart to encourage social distancing in classrooms with small class sizes based upon the agreement and room size.
- Safety directives and reminder signage throughout all school buildings.
- Deep cleaning of classrooms and buildings as well as administrative checks on cleaning results and regular review of procedures.
- Ample supplies of hand sanitizers as well as hand sanitizing stations.
- Contracted nurse on duty at each school.
- Deep cleaning, masks, and social distance seating on school buses.
- Limiting access to schools by the public as well as having isolation areas for those who feel ill.
- Access to the COVID-19 vaccine.“As a board, we understand it is time to make the necessary provisions to ensure all students can return to their classrooms this fall,” said Angelique Peterson-Mayberry, DPSCD Board of Education President. “We believe our protocols are proven to work and we applaud our students and teachers who have demonstrated we can effectively perform seemingly difficult tasks. We thank the DFT for their partnership and willingness to stand with us, students first.”
In preparation for the upcoming school year, the Board and Dr. Vitti conducted nearly a dozen engagement sessions with employees, families, students, and community members where more than 2,000 participants attended. Those engagement sessions will continue as the 2021-2022 school year begins. The District is continuing to enroll students in preparation for the upcoming school year by encouraging all families to update their contact information by visiting or calling their child’s school. To date, the District has conducted more than 20,000 home visits this summer to encourage enrollment and attendance when school starts. On Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021, DPSCD will host a Back-to-School Expo, which will be held at three school locations. We are also encouraging families to schedule school tours to see the protocols in place and reacclimate their students to being in the building.
For more information, visit detroitk12.org and follow @detroitk12 on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
For questions or more information families and students can call their school or call the DPSCD help desk at (313) 240-4377.