Some Michigan schools expect to go online, cancel classes

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. — The continued rise in coronavirus cases across Michigan and an expected surge following Christmas and the New Year has extended the holiday break for some students.

Classes that had been scheduled to resume Monday in several districts have been cancelled or moved online.

The Detroit Public Schools Community District shut down school through at least Wednesday. Ann Arbor Public Schools in Washtenaw County will go to remote learning Wednesday through Friday.

Just north of Detroit, Oak Park Public Schools cancelled classes Monday and said learning would be held virtually through the rest of the week, while Southfield Public Schools shifted to online remote learning for the entire week.

The Lansing School District also shifted to virtual learning for the week. Teachers and staff in Lansing still will be required to report to their schools.

In Pontiac, about 30 miles northwest of Detroit, public school classes will be online until Jan. 18.The moves follow the state’s reporting of more than 25,800 new virus cases and 338 deaths on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Michigan has reported more than 1.5 million confirmed virus cases and more than 26,900 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

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.

Ann Arbor schools anticipate a return to classrooms on Jan. 10 for students and staff.

“We are using all the tools we have implemented and refined during this past year to maintain the priority of critical in-school learning for our students across … classrooms on as many days as possible, even as we face this current winter surge,” the district said on its webpage.

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.


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