Michigan School District Extends Virtual Learning Indefinitely

An empty elementary school / Getty Images
January 21, 2022

A Michigan public school district is indefinitely extending virtual learning for all students, citing its county's COVID-19 positivity rate.

Flint Community Schools superintendent Kevelin Jones announced on Wednesday that schools will remain closed to in-person learning "for the greater health of our community."

"We want to get scholars back into the buildings, but it is just not safe," Jones said in a letter to parents. "We are going to have to catch up, but the world has not ended. We are going to keep going and keep educating."

A January 2021 study by the American Academy of Pediatrics found that in-school transmission of COVID-19 is "extremely rare." In the 11 school districts studied, no transmissions occurred between adults and children, and only 32 cases of kid-to-kid or adult-to-adult transmission were recorded. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urged schools to fully open in fall 2021, saying in-person instruction was safe with proper mitigation measures such as vaccinations and masking.

A CDC study in March 2021 showed remote learning has increased emotional distress in children and parents. More than half of American educators also reported virtual classes have resulted in "significant" learning loss for their students, according to a report by Horace Mann.

During a press conference on Wednesday, President Joe Biden credited his administration's American Rescue Plan with "keep[ing] our students and educators safe and schools open." The plan provided school districts with funds for ventilation systems and COVID-19 tests, among other coronavirus mitigation measures.

"We're not going back to closing schools," Biden said. "Schools should stay open."

As he spoke, school districts in at least half of U.S. states had moved to remote learning due to rising case counts caused by the Omicron variant.