DETROIT (CBS Detroit/AP) — The Detroit Public Schools Community District said it will switch to online learning on Fridays in December in response to rising COVID-19 cases and the need for mental health relief.
In a special announcement on the district's website, Superintendent Nikolai Vitti said the decision was made "after listening and reflecting on the concerns of school-based leaders, teachers, support staff, students, and families regarding the need for mental health relief, rising COVID cases, and time to more thoroughly clean schools."
Vitti told families that it's critical that 75% of students log in, the minimum attendance for an official school day under state financial rules.
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 told the Associated Press.
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. This comes as the state hits a seven-month high of hospitalizations tied to the virus as of Monday, with more than 3,000 people currently occupying a bed.
Vitti said vaccinating students is the best way to ensure safety and stick to consistent learning schedules in Detroit. Children ages 5-11 now are eligible for shots.
According to a report from the Detroit Free Press, some students and teachers at Martin Luther King Jr. High School walked out for about 20 minutes Wednesday to protest conditions inside the building. They said classes still are too large for a pandemic and the school needs a scrubbing.
In a statement to the news outlet, principal Damian Perry said online instruction in December will provide an opportunity for a "deep cleaning" of the school.
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