COVID-19 has brought about many changes in the last several months since the pandemic hit, including how students across the nation are being taught. In March, when the virus first started affecting Michigan residents, schools across the State closed their doors and went to online teaching. With the start of the new school year, most districts in Southeastern Michigan began the year virtually. As the map below shows, most school districts in the region opted for virtual learning for the start of school (61). However, there were 43 districts in the region that started off the school year with in-person learning; all but one also offered students the option to take classes online (Britton-Macon Area School District). Furthermore, there were 23 districts in the region that offered a hybrid-start, which means students split their time between in-person learning and at-home virtual learning.
The ability for each school district in the State to choose what type of education they offer to students was made possible through the “Return to Learn” package of bills that was signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in August. This package of bills gave the districts local control to decide what is best for the students and their families in terms of the type of learning environments offered. Between hybrid and all virtual education approaches, it’s clear that most districts decided at least some limitation to student-to-student and student-to-teacher interaction was necessary to curb the spread of the virus.
With school being in session for only a few weeks, some schools that started with face-to-face learning have already pulled back, halting the in-person option. According to the Detroit Free Press these schools include Novi High School and Detroit Country Day. The same article though said Birmingham, Livonia and Utica schools are looking to bring students back in for face-to-face learning, despite currently being all virtual currently.
According to the State of Michigan’s database on school outbreaks there have been small outbreaks at two schools in Oakland County (Oakland Christian Elementary and Notre Dame Preparatory School) and one in St. Clair County (St. Clair RESA).
We can hope for no additional outbreaks in our schools, but with 115,870 total COVID cases now confirmed in Michigan, 483 of which were new as of Sept. 19, the odds of that are low.