Judge rules Detroit summer school can continue in-person, students must be tested for COVID-19

Posted at 1:39 PM, Jul 21, 2020

A judge has ruled that in-person summer school with the Detroit Public Schools Community District can continue, but all of the students must be tested for COVID-19.

The case was filed in court on Monday by activist group By Any Means Necessary (BAMN) and moved to federal court, where a hearing was held on Tuesday.

The judge in the hearing that all of the students must be tested within the next two days.

BAMN has had people protesting outside of the DPSCD bus depots since last Monday when summer school began.

“We don’t need another racist attack against Detroit or for Detroit to be used this summer as a Tuskegee experiment to determine whether or not schools can reopen in the fall. This the closest thing in my lifetime that I have seen that smacks of genocide. It is horrifying and needs to be stopped”, said Shanta Driver.

DPSCD Superintendent Dr. Nikolai Vitti responded to the lawsuit saying, “Although we are opposed to the federal judge’s order we will comply to provide our students and families with the face-to-face (F2F) instruction services that they are legally entitled to receive through Detroit Public Schools Community District’s summer school offering under MI’s Safe Return Phases. It is insulting to our parents that they must have their children COVID tested to receive public school services yet parents outside of the city can receive the same services without testing.

We want to thank the City of Detroit for working with us to provide all F2F summer school students with free, rapid testing. Beginning this week, we will allow parents who made the decision to send their children for F2F summer school instruction to have their children COVID tested through nasal swabs. These tests will be done at school to reduce the burden on parents if their consent is given. Results will be returned in 30 minutes.

As a district, we were never completely opposed to student testing but continue to question the legal authority to require parents to have their child tested to receive public school educational services, the inequity of requiring our students to test and other districts and schools not requiring the testing, and the burden it places on our parents who are already overwhelmed. The federal judge’s order essentially creates law that far exceeds federal and state safety expectations for students’ return to school under COVID.

This order should serve as a clear wake up call to federal and state lawmakers that guidance regarding the reopening of schools must be coherent, funded, based on the best medical and health advice, and be legally binding or this maddening process of providing public school parents with educational options this fall, F2F or online learning, is headed for political and legal wrangling that will disproportionately impact our most vulnerable families and children.”