In an open letter to Michigan state leaders, Detroit Public Schools Superintendant Nikoli Vitti wrote recommendations on how Detroit Public Schools should proceed in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis.

His first recommendation was to close schools until next year and require enrichment through online learning. However, the catch-22 is that the Michigan Department of Education recently said online learning for K-12 closures from Coronavirus will not be counted as instructional time as reported in a recent article in the Detroit Free Press.

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A recent memo by Venessa A. Keeler, Deputy Superintendent at Michigan Department of Education, wrote all students should have access to technology for learning, internet access, (that should) support the needs of all students – including special needs students. Raising concerns about the infrastructure needed to facilitate this.

Credit: Detroit Public Schools – Superintendant Nikolai P. Vitti, Ed.D.

Detroit Public School Superintendant continued, “Declare schools closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 academic year. Require all districts to develop an online learning platform within a reasonable amount of time. This can include distributing laptops with internet access to families. (This will require the flexibility to use federal and state education funds differently and support from the business and philanthropic community.)”

“However, districts should be required to offer the learning opportunities just the same. Requiring that students submit assignments would disadvantage those who are in homes where survival is priority right now (employment, access to food and maintaining stable housing), not learning from home. There are also significant challenges for students with disabilities being required to learn independently from home without direct face-to-face support.”

Viitti added going to an online or virtual school only with no transition time would be “disastrous”. Leaving students behind without the resources at home to access those resources in the dark.

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Vitti did recommend that schools still receive full funding from the state so that they can implement online learning and “structured learning opportunities during this crisis”. Also citing the ripple effects of laying off employees, losing health insurance and going on unemployment insurance.

As far as graduating high school seniors go, Vitti recommends, “Current seniors should be able to graduate based on the number of credits that are required minus their last semester.”

To be clear to CBS Detroit readers, the open letter by Superintendant Vitti is only recommendations, and discussion of these issues is still happening at this time.

The open letter also added after sanitization, 58 schools were open to serve meals and distribute learning materials. Serving 70,000 meals and 41,000 printed learning packets in their first week alone.

They also launched a website to guide parents and students on DPS programs.

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