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Parents concerned about unequal access to education during COVID-19

Posted at 6:35 PM, May 04, 2020

They are the children most in need of resources, and they don’t have access to reliable technology. The Detroit Public Schools Community District promised to provide them with paper packets to make sure they can still continue learning. However, parents say there is a problem.

“I have been to three schools, actually,” said Charlotte Metcalf, mom of a Detroit Public Schools Community District student.

She says she went to schools listed as sites to pick up paper packets with study materials. They all were out of packets for her son’s grade level.

Her story is not isolated.

“As of right now the total amount of packets I still do not have is 21,” said Melissa Redmon.

Redmon is a mom to a student at Paul Robeson Malcolm X Academy. She volunteers as a parent liaison at the school. She says as of Monday she knows there are 21 families who have been unable to get packets at the school. She reached out to the district and they told her they are posting PDFs of the packets at https://www.detroitk12.org/site/Default.aspx?PageID=10927 .

“That may not help because a lot of parents don’t have internet service,” she said.

Superintendent Dr. Nicolai Vitti sent WXYZ a statement saying:

The district has developed and implemented an approved online learning process. Nearly 30K students are engaged daily in these lessons. Another 30K academic packets were distributed at over 40 school locations. The district served 51,000 students before the COVID shutdown. The academic packets are printouts of what is provided online. The district did not turn away any parent or family who requested a packet. Obviously, we provided packets to students from charter schools and students who attend schools in other districts. We do not mind doing that because we are doing everything we can to support children and their families during this crisis. Due to such a large demand across the city, and not requiring verification of where a child attends school, we will print more packets for particular grade levels and subject areas. We will also shift surplus packets from one distribution school to another based on feedback from parents through teachers.

The district says the partnership announced recently with numerous businesses and charitable organizations that will provide students with internet access and tablets will help, starting next month.

In the meantime, parents say they are doing their best and want people aware that not all children have equal access to education, especially during the COVID-19 crisis.