Faith Community Fosters a Covenant with District, DFT and Community to Support a Full Return to School in the Fall

DETROIT – May 27, 2021 – Leadership of Detroit’s influential Council of Baptist Pastors of Detroit and the Vicinity issued a call to action supporting a full return to school in the fall for Detroit’s teachers and students in support of Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD) and the Detroit Federation of Teachers (DFT) following a school year of erratic in-person suspensions and resumptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Leaders said there is a sense of urgency. “We need teachers and students to get back in school, and it’s time to fight COVID-19 by getting the vaccine.”    

The influential clergy group, under the leadership of Reverend Dr. Steve Bland, president of the Council of Baptist Pastors in Detroit, convened members of the faith-based community to support Superintendent Dr. Nikolai Vitti, DPSCD’s Board of Education and DFT. This week, on Monday, May 24, 2021, DPSCD once again restarted in-person learning as an option for students and families in classrooms where teachers decided to return to in person teaching.   

While acknowledging the COVID-19 pandemic’s dramatic impact on the City of Detroit since March of 2020, The Council said DPSCD’s safety mitigation measures such as mandatory mask wearing for students, teachers and staff; daily symptom and temperature checks; social distancing procedures, deep cleaning protocols, and weekly testing have been indicators of DPSCD’s ongoing commitment  to provide a safe in-person learning environment for its students, teachers and staff. The Council also called upon the community to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, noting DPSCD’s Teens for Vaccines campaign, as well as the work of other Council and community organizations that have held vaccination events.    

 “We have recognized and been sensitive to the cries and concerns of both parents and teachers about the safety of in-person learning since the start of the pandemic,” said the Reverend Dr. Steve Bland, president of the Council of Baptist Pastors in Detroit. “We too have had to make painful, yet necessary decisions about when to re-open our churches for our parishioners to worship. However, given the safety protocols DPSCD has followed throughout this school year, we believe the time is right to move forward with in-person learning and encourage our communities to get vaccinated.”    

Using science and data as well as getting input from local and national public health experts and agencies, DPSCD has paused in-person learning options at times this school year when infection rates exceeded DPSCD safety thresholds and access to the vaccine was not widespread. In order to help families better manage the burdens with full online learning, DPSCD added wraparound services such as the Technology and Family Resource Hubs as well as calling attention to the need for emotional support for students and families through Home Visits and a Mental Health Hotline. Similarly, leaders and members of the Faith Based Council have provided an array of support services to their followers, with the goal of helping ease the anxiety and stress of living through the pandemic.   

“Rev. Dr. Bland and the Council of Baptist Pastors and Partners have consistently been at DPSCD’s side as we have been rebuilding the school district from the disaster of Emergency Management,” said Dr. Vitti. “Now they will work with us to bring our students and teachers back to schools so we can restart the improvement process to provide our students with the type of education quality they deserve. We are looking forward to working through a recovery phase with our students and reestablish the momentum the district had before the pandemic hit. I know our school leaders, teachers, and support staff are ready for that challenge and opportunity!”  

"On behalf of the board, I am proud and very encouraged by the support we received today. As we stand with DFT, our teachers and families, this is one step closer to getting our students and teachers back in the classroom. We are anxious to get back to our reform work and fulfilling our mission to equip Detroit students with the education they deserve," said Angelique Peterson-Mayberry, Board President, DPSCD.   

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 more than 49,000 children. For more information, visit and follow @detroitk12 on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.