Due to a rise in COVID-19-related cases, the Detroit District joined other districts in moving classes online this week after the winter break. Parents are once more faced with the challenge of juggling work and home around the education needs of their children after this shift, which involved 50,000 students.
Peterson was a single parent working more than 60 hours per week at two jobs. Peterson had to sometimes miss work in order to care for her teenage son over the course of more than one year of online learning.
"I will need to take off, but I'm looking at the length of this. Peterson stated Wednesday that you only have so many days off and so many days off. This was a day after the district announced students would return to school at home with laptops until at least January 14.
While the vast majority of U.S. school districts are returning to in-person learning, other large schools systems such as those in Newark and New Jersey, Milwaukee, and Cleveland, have resorted to remote learning due to rising infections and staff cuts. Numerous smaller districts, including those in Detroit, Chicago, and Washington, have also followed suit.
Students are also at risk from disruptions. The effects of long periods of remote learning in the past two years have been devastating for many students, leaving them with mental and academic setbacks that experts still are trying to explain.
President Joe Biden campaigned on the promise to reopen schools and is now pressing for them to stay open. His administration says schools shouldn't be closed because of regular virus testing and vaccines.
Biden stated Tuesday that there is no reason to believe that omicron is more dangerous for children than the previous versions. "We know our children can be safe at school.
However, the reality is different for certain districts. Because of limited testing supplies, many districts have low vaccination rates. Only 44% of Detroit's residents aged 5 or older have received vaccines, compared to 63% statewide.
Nikolai Vitti, Detroit Superintendent, wrote to parents that due to low vaccination rates among families and students, it was necessary to return to school in order to increase the number of positive cases.
Vitti stated that "the only way we can get to the other side" of this pandemic was to move to higher vaccination rates.
Chicago students were absent from school Friday for the third consecutive day, after school leaders failed in their efforts to reach an agreement over virus safety protocols with teachers union. Because of the infected surge, the union wants to return to remote instruction.
Both Peterson and Joshua Jackson, her 16-year-old son, are vaccinated in Detroit. Joshua said he would prefer to be present in person and that it was easier for him to concentrate in a virtual class.
The high school junior stated that she felt like she had learned less. "I am worried that we won’t go back to school. The district had done it before, and they said it would only take a few weeks. It ended up taking the entire school year.
Officials from districts that have returned to online instruction say it is temporary and most people will return to in-person classes in a week or so. Some parents believe it is the right decision, as infections are at an all-time high in certain areas.
Nicole Berry brought her three children back to Detroit classrooms last year, but she kept them at home after she was diagnosed with COVID-19 around Thanksgiving. Detroit offers full-time remote learning for families.
Berry, 48, is a teacher who also works more than 40 hours a week.
"My children weren't going back anyway. She said that she had already made the decision.
Jennifer Baez, a Chicago resident, said that she hopes the district will allow remote education until the surge slows. One of her sons was recently sickened by COVID-19. She isn't certain that her children will wear their masks or take other precautions.
Baez works remotely for a legal secretary. Due to her youngest son's developmental delays she must sit alongside him during his school day in general education classes. He usually has a classroom assistant.
"You learn to accept the inevitable. Baez stated that she feels like a mother adapts to the world around her. We just do what we do, even if I had to be a lunch lady or a teacher at the gym. It's the same way we have been doing it since 2020.