The Detroit school district would open a separate online school next year for some students who want to continue learning remotely, and it would require its most vulnerable students, as well as students in Montessori programs, to learn in person.
Among those who would be required to learn in person — unless they receive a medical exemption — would be students who receive special education services, chronically absent students, and those still learning English.
Those were some of the ideas for reopening for the fall that Superintendent Nikolai Vitti shared with parents during a virtual engagement session Tuesday. Vitti said nothing is definite for the Detroit Public Schools Community District, but that the ideas represent the current thinking of district leaders.
Two things could get in the way, though. Some of the details would require buy-in from district unions. And the Michigan legislature must act to ensure that students will be able to continue learning online. Vitti is sharing the ideas with parents, staff, and others in the community to get input. A district survey will go out in June, asking parents what mode of instruction they prefer.
The discussions come as COVID-19 cases continue to decline across Michigan after surges earlier this year forced the Detroit district to suspend in-person learning for the second time this school year.
Like school district leaders across the U.S., Detroit’s top education officials are in the midst of conversations about returning to buildings after a school year marked by COVID-19 anxiety, higher failure rates, more chronic absenteeism, and a reluctance among many school staff and parents to return to buildings. New York school officials left parents with mixed emotions Monday when they announced the district would not offer any remote learning for students in the fall. In Tennessee, schools have been barred from offering hybrid learning, in which students learn both online and in person, next school year.