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As Delta variant concerns grow, some Michigan parents weigh school options for their kids

Posted at 1:24 PM, Aug 02, 2021

(WXYZ) — As the Delta variant surges, some parents are having second thoughts about sending their children back to school.

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"As a mom, I am afraid, and I feel we are back tracking to March of 2020 all over again,” said Free Hicks, local mother of two.

Backtracking to a time where schools were closing and students were learning from home.

"The virtual thing I think it was a great attempt, however educationally, academically, there were a few things that were missing from virtual school,” said Hicks.

Her two boys, Adam and Noah are currently attending in-person summer school at University Prep Science and Math in Wayne County.

"So far we have had no troubles whatsoever. Both schools have strict protocols to follow in regards to entering and dismissal,” she said.

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Isabel Stieber, 14, is heading to 9th grade at Grosse Pointe South.

“I’m pretty excited! I’m excited to see my friends and make new friends and join clubs,” she said.

But her mother does have some concerns.

"With the Delta variant, for sure! It’s been - you just never know,” said Jennifer.

School leaders say they understand how parents feel.

"As a superintendent, the safety of our students is the first consideration for all of our decision making,” said Jon Dean, superintendent of Grosse Pointe Public Schools.

He said he’s paying attention to local data.

"Our local data has very low incidents of COVID right now. But we check that data every day and just like we did in the school year we will change our mitigation depending on what local looks like," said Dean.

He’s also keeping a close eye on vaccination rates.

"Our vaccinations rates for our employees is incredibly high. It’s well over 80 percent," he said.

Rates are also high in his district among students who are eligible to get the vaccine like Isabel who recently got her shot.

"Now we feel comfortable enough and we are ready to go,” said Jennifer.

We reached out to over a dozen school districts in our area for more on what their reopening plans may look like, or if they are changing. Many superintendents were unavailable to chat with us but did say they are monitoring the situation.

In Novi, a spokesperson with the district says the superintendent can make a recommendation but the board has the final say.

Detroit's Committee on Schools Reopening says:

“The CSR [Labor Management Committee on Schools Reopening] will continue to meet weekly to review reopening issues and review pandemic related data to inform any recommendations to leadership regarding the plan. This is another layer of monitoring, accountability, and collaboration to ensure commitments of safety are implemented with fidelity. The agreement also provides teachers and auxiliary staff hazard pay up to $2,000 and another $2,000 if teachers need to work with students in a blended learning environment (i.e. in person learners coupled with online learners)."

We also reached out to the State Department of Education for their plans and guidance for districts. They said:

“Due to the evolving nature of the COVID-19 virus and its Delta variant, we respectfully refer you to the public health experts at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services."

On the state's website, there is also a K-12 School Opening Guidance for a safe return to learn.

COVID-19 Guidance for Operating Schools Safely by WXYZ-TV Channel 7 Detroit on Scribd

As of today, Superintendent Dean says school is still set to open the day after Labor Day for 100 percent face-to-face learning.

"We surveyed our parents last school year and there was not enough interest in an all virtual option so we are not offering that for this coming school year,” he said.

He said they are monitoring the situation and they are capable of going back to virtual is necessary.

But he is hoping things can look as normal as possible as some parents get ready to send their children back to school.

“I am a little nervous, but I’m going to stay positive,” said Hicks.