WHAT'S NEW: We Deserve A Clear Plan For School Re-Opening

Share This

Sisters and Brothers:

I sincerely hope that all is well with you and your family during this challenging COVID-19 crisis that has gripped metro Detroit, the state of Michigan, our nation, and the world.

The recent uptick in coronavirus cases in Michigan over the last week is concerning. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said last Thursday that, “We can’t let our guard down and play fast and loose with the rules,” referring to her prior directives that state residents wear protective face covering in public establishments.  

At the same time, U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, appeared on television talk shows today to push for school districts across the nation to resume in-person instruction.

That said, we are professional educators. We need to lead with science, and we need and deserve a clear plan for school re-opening. We have been here before. It is important to note that the District’s effort this spring to provide distance-learning for our students was challenging to say the least. Fewer than one-third of DPSCD students participated. Nonetheless, you played an important role in quickly moving to help students benefit from the on-line platform.

Here is what we know:

·  Traditional return to school is not possible at this time.

·  Members need to feel comfortable to effectuate a safe return.

·  Our community wants, needs, and deserves to feel confident in the District's plan to educate children.

·  We will rely on science to help direct our path forward.

As you will recall, we recently surveyed you regarding your readiness to return to school. We asked whether you were more comfortable with traditional in-person learning, virtual/distance learning, or a hybrid. Our survey results -Return to School - pointed out that a majority of Members want a partial return, meaning a mix of in-person and virtual learning. About 1-in-5 (17%) of our Members indicated that they want to return to traditional in-person instruction.

According to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s school reopening plan, the school district administration has considerable autonomy in what a school reopening plan looks like. It is our ask of Gov. Whitmer, who has been a friend to public education, to incorporate into her plan additional measures that ensure the safety of our Members and our students. We do not need several hundred different approaches to public education in a COVID-19 environment. As the District’s largest bargaining unit, we also demand and expect to have a seat at the table as DPSCD General Superintendent Nikolai Vitti and his team further determine what education in the fall looks like. After all, we are District employees and parents of children who will be directly impacted.

At this point, we believe that the District is not ready—and that will put our Members and our community at risk. Please know that your Union will fight to be engaged in the process regarding school re-opening scheduled for later this summer. If you have opted into teaching summer school and your school does not distribute the necessary PPE for staff and students, staff are to exit the buildings immediately! Please use this form -- DFT/DFP/DAEOE Follow-Up Form - to report if there is no PPE in your school.

Finally, it is important that we continue to mobilize, strategize, organize and vote. It is the best way to influence the political process, which is where the lion’s share of public schools funding and decision making derives.

As always, I will continue to keep you informed.

Be well and be safe,
Terrence Martin