DPSCD and DFT reach accord on reopening Letter of Agreement for the 20-21 school year to address COVID-19 safety standards
Reopening plan includes face to face and online learning/teaching options for Detroit families, students and teachers
DETROIT – August 28, 2020 – Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD) announced today it successfully reached a reopening of schools’ agreement with the Detroit Federation of Teachers (DFT) reflected in a signed Letter of Agreement (LOA) effective Friday, August 28, 2020. The reopening LOA recognizes the need to provide learning and teaching options for students/teachers during the COVID-19 pandemic adhering to safety standards, protocols, and a joint commitment to monitoring implementation.
“We are living in difficult times. It is our hope that through this agreement we can now collectively own the reopening of our schools to best serve our children and families while ensuring the safety of our employees,” said Dr. Nikolai Vitti, Superintendent of Detroit Public Schools Community District. “The need to serve our children never stops. Even in a pandemic, we need to find ways to best serve and support our children. For some of our families and students, this means face to face instruction and for others it is online learning. This agreement signals we will work together to provide equitable education opportunities for our children and families. I personally want to thank the DFT for the open dialogue and collaboration in preparation for a safe reopening of school on Tuesday, Sept. 8.”
One of many key provisions agreed to by the District and DFT is the establishment of a joint Labor Management Committee on Schools Reopening (CSR). The CSR will meet weekly to review reopening issues and review pandemic related data to inform any recommendations to leadership regarding the plan. This is another layer of monitoring, accountability, and collaboration to ensure commitments of safety are implemented with fidelity. The agreement also provides teachers the opportunity to earn $750 a quarter for working face to face through “hazard pay.” This could allow a teacher to earn an additional $3,000 for working face to face for the entire school year.
The District’s reopening plan provided various options and scenarios to deliver instruction to students. Based on teacher preferences, teachers have an option to teach online or face to face. Families also completed a survey to choose online or face to face instruction. Nearly all schools will offer some level of face to face instruction even if most teachers and students will function online at particular schools. This will be done to honor students and families who asked for face to face instruction and teachers who requested this form of instruction. All schools will also be open as learning centers. This will allow students to attend school daily, receive breakfast and lunch, and login to facilitate online learning. Administrators, teachers who opt for face to face instruction, and support staff will be at the school to support students through the learning centers as they connect to their online teachers. Breakfast and lunch will also be provided daily at each school in the District for online students.
DPSCD committed to the implementation of extensive safety measures to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus in schools. The District has to date procured millions of dollars in Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) and supplemental cleaning services prior to the start of the school year using state and federal COVID-19 funding.
The safety guidelines include:
- COVID-19 student and employee training.
- Employee COVID-19 testing.
- Daily symptom and temperature checks for students and staff.
- Required use and distribution of masks for students, teachers, and all staff. Sanitizing wipes and sprays, face shields, gowns and gloves will be given to teachers and staff.
- Desks that are placed 6ft apart to encourage social distancing in classroom with the maximum of 20 students in a class.
- Safety directives and reminder signage throughout all school buildings.
- Deep cleaning of classrooms and buildings as well as administrative checks on cleaning results and regular review of procedures.
- Ample supplies of hand sanitizers as well as hand sanitizing stations.
- Contracted nurse on duty at each school.
- Deep cleaning, masks and social distance seating on school buses.
- Limiting access to schools by the public as well as having isolation areas for those who feel ill.
“As a board, we all value the safety of our students, teachers and staff,” said Dr. Iris Taylor, DPSCD Board of Education Chair. “We believe our protocols and reopening plan will create a safe environment for learning during this unprecedented time in public education and we have committed to frequent reviews of the reopening plan as COVID-19 has proven to be unpredictable.”
Collectively, the School Board and Dr. Vitti held more than 20 engagement sessions to discuss the reopening plan, answer questions, address concerns, and make adjustments to the plan. Approximately 25,000 staff, students and families participated. The District will continue to host engagement sessions.
In preparation for the upcoming school year, DPSCD invested in improved systems for online learning, including full access to the curriculum for students and teachers and devices and internet access for all students. The District is also providing professional development for teachers on the new online teaching tools, such as Schoology. All newly enrolled students will also receive a laptop with options for internet access. Parent training will be given to support families throughout online learning. The District is also providing a homework and mental health hotline for students and families.
The District is continuing to enroll students in preparation for the upcoming school year by encouraging all families to update their contact information and in cases where families can’t be reached teams are performing door to door visits. For more information on the reopening of schools, please visit, www.detroitk12.org/returntoschool, parents can call their school or call the DPSCD help desk at (313) 240-4377.
About Detroit Public Schools Community District
Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD) is Michigan’s largest public education system. It is governed by a locally elected, seven-member board with Dr. Nikolai Vitti serving as superintendent. The District’s mission is to provide every student with a beneficial and rightful educational experience, preparing students to be career and college ready, and qualified to compete in the global market. The District has more than 100 schools and educates 51,000 children. For more information, visit detroitk12.org and follow @detroitk12 on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.