Rising COVID-19 Rates Keep Metro Detroit Schools Closed After Holidays

Some districts cancel classes, while others go online.

school hallway lined with red lockers and white brick

Some schools in Metro Detroit are delaying the return to classes after the holiday break due to rising COVID-19 numbers.

Detroit’s public school system and some charter schools in the city are closed through Wednesday. Southfield Public Schools will be virtual this week. Oak Park Public Schools canceled classes Monday and said learning would be held virtually through the rest of the week. Schools in Pontiac will be online until at least Jan. 18.

Last week, Detroit schools Superintendent Nikolai Vitti cited the city’s 36% virus infection rate in the district’s decision to shut down. Teachers, administrators and other employees of the district were being required to get tested for COVID-19 Monday and Tuesday.

“This high rate of infection will inevitably mean that a return to in-person learning on Monday, with nearly 8,000 employees and partners and nearly 50,000 students, will lead to extensive COVID spread placing employees, students, and families at risk, along with excessive staff shortages due to positive and close contact scenarios,” Vitti said on the district’s website.

The district is looking into the possibility of distributing laptops to students this week and expects to announce plans on Wednesday.

“We simply cannot go online districtwide Monday … because all of our students do not have laptops,” he said.

Health officials have warned that new cases of the highly transmissible omicron variant has the potential to strain hospitals and staff.

In Michigan, the number of hospitalized adults with confirmed infections rose to roughly 3,900 Monday, up more than 240 from five days earlier, according to state health officials.

The figure had been dropping or holding steady for a couple of weeks from a record high of about 4,500 in mid-December.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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  • Sascha Raiyn
    Sascha Raiyn is Education Reporter at 101.9 WDET. She is a native Detroiter who grew up listening to news and music programming on Detroit Public Radio.