More Detroit families and teachers want in-person learning, survey responses show

The hallways and classrooms of Detroit’s Southeastern High School have been quiet in recent years as enrollment has fallen. Supporters hope new plans for the school will attract more students.
In Detroit, more parents and teachers say they want in-person learning. Photo taken in 2019 at Southeastern High School. (Anthony Lanzilote / Chalkbeat)

More students and teachers are likely to show up when the Detroit school district reopens its doors for in-person learning next month, according to the latest results of an ongoing survey.

With about 80% to 90% of district teachers responding so far, 40% of them say they’re willing to teach face to face. That’s up from about 20% in the fall, Superintendent Nikolai Vitti said during a school board committee meeting Monday.

The family survey shows 50% of parents who responded want their kids in school in person. That’s up from 25% in the fall, Vitti said.

Families can still take the survey here.

The discussion comes as more school districts transition from virtual learning to face-to-face learning in Michigan, where the positive COVID-19 cases are on the decline. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Jan. 8 urged school districts to offer an in-person option for students by March 1, if not earlier.

The Detroit district canceled in-person classes in November and transitioned students online because of rising COVID-19 cases. Vitti said earlier this month that he hoped to bring students back by mid-February.

Vitti said principals are working through schedules now to see what can be offered at various grade levels. A lot will depend on the ability to match teacher preference with parent demand.

It’s likely that some students will return to a hybrid model, where they’ll be in school some weekdays and learning at home on the days they’re not in the building.

“We will have very different situations at different schools,” Vitti said. “We’ll have some schools where all grade levels will offer in-person learning. We’ll have some schools that offer just kindergarten in-person learning.”

The Latest

The city enlisted Accenture to help analyze supply and demand for preschool seats. Their initial findings, obtained through a public records request, don’t shed much light on the topic.

Longtime activist cites his own health issues, and the recent death of his sister.

The leadership change at the city’s largest network of charter high schools comes as Chicago’s Board of Education has increased scrutiny on charters and school choice.

The federal Office of Civil Rights’ investigation found students didn’t get the support the law guaranteed them. The Michigan Department of Education wants the case thrown out.

Across all high schools in the city, 1 of every 5 students are mandated to receive special education support under an IEP. At specialized high schools, that number is only 1 of 50.

Access to acceleration has long been wildly inequitable. Here’s what schools can do to reduce the financial and logistical barriers.