Michigan's Largest School District Going Remote on Fridays in December, Cites Stress

The largest school district in Michigan announced Wednesday that classes will be held remotely every Friday in December, citing stress and the need for "mental health relief," the Associated Press reported.

The move also comes as COVID-19 cases are on the rise across Michigan and the state has reported some of the highest infection numbers in the nation in the last week.

Nikolai Vitti, superintendent of Detroit Public Schools, said in the announcement that the remote days would follow the usual time and school schedule. He also noted that at least 75 percent of students would need to be logged in and in attendance—the minimum attendance for a school day per the state's financial rules—for the three remote learning days in December.

If the school is unable to meet this level of attendance, "districtwide online learning days will not be a viable option for us the rest of the school year," Vitti said in the announcement.

"As a reminder, the state requires 180 days of instruction at 75 percent districtwide attendance or the district pays a funding penalty. We have met this district wide threshold each school day since the first day of school in September," he wrote.

On the online learning days in December, all school staff in the district will also work remotely, with the expectation of employees who cannot complete their work from home. This includes warehouse staff, van drivers, all public safety personnel and one administrator or designated employee for each school and central office department, according to the announcement.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Michigan Remote Learning
The largest school district in Michigan announced Wednesday that classes will be held remotely every Friday in December, citing stress and the need for “mental health relief." Above, a student works on a laptop in a classroom in Newlon Elementary School, one of 55 Discovery Link sites set up by Denver Public Schools for remote learning, on August 25, 2020. David Zalubowski/AP Photo

Meanwhile, some Michigan schools are taking next week off for the Thanksgiving holiday instead of just three days.

"While this couple of days off is not a solution, it is a step in the right direction toward encouraging relief and self-care that we all need to practice," Muskegon Superintendent Matthew Cortez said.

Schools will also be closed in the Galesburg-Augusta, Ravenna and Wyoming districts.

Michigan and Minnesota have been leading the U.S. this week in the number of new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Vitti said vaccinating students is the best way to ensure safety and stick to consistent learning schedules in Detroit. Children ages 5 to 11 now are eligible for shots.

Michigan Vaccination
The largest school district in Michigan announced Wednesday that classes will be held remotely every Friday in December because of the need for “mental health relief" and rising COVID-19 cases in the state. Above, a 7-year-old receives their first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at the Beaumont Health offices in Southfield, Michigan, on November 5, 2021. Jeff Kowalsky/AFP via Getty Images