Students in Detroit's public schools could return to their classrooms in about two weeks.
In-person classes are expected to resume by Jan. 24 or Jan. 31 at the latest, according to the district, which switched all schools to virtual learning last week due to increasing COVID 19 cases and the city's poor vaccination rate.
“This is a temporary online learning period to allow the city’s infection rate to decline,” the Detroit Public Schools Community District said in an email Monday.
In Detroit, just 44% of residents 5 and older had received a vaccine dose as of last week, compared with a statewide rate of 63%.
Detroit Superintendent Nikolai Vitti told parents in a letter that a return to the classroom would lead to “extreme levels of positive cases.”
Large school systems in Newark, New Jersey, Milwaukee, Cleveland and other cities also have gone back to remote learning as infections soar and sideline staff members. Dozens of smaller districts have followed, including outside Detroit, Chicago and Washington.
Like most public districts across Michigan, Detroit schools returned to in-person learning in the fall.
About 2,000 laptops were given out by schools in Detroit Thursday and Friday with the temporary switch back to virtual learning, according to the district that is providing internet access to students at no cost.
“Most of our students have a learning device at home that was previously provided by the district last year or this year,” the district said.
About 58% of the district's 50,000 students attended class virtually Thursday. On Friday, attendance rose slightly to 61%.
During two online learning days in December, the average attendance rate was about 75%. In-person attendance this academic year has been about 80%, the district said.