HAMTRAMCK — The Hamtramck Public Schools District announced this week its schools will be continuing virtual learning for all students until Jan. 14, amid a COVID-19 surge in the region.
HPS originally scheduled virtual learning for students upon the week following the district’s holiday break, Jan. 3 – 7, but is now implementing an extension due to the rise in COVID-19 cases in the county.
Besides those dates, there will be no school for students on Jan. 14 for staff professional development and on Jan. 17 the district is closed for Martin Luther King Day, meaning students will not return to classes till Jan. 18.
Michigan recorded a huge spike in cases immediately following the Christmas holidays a year ago, with more than 14,500 cases recorded on Dec. 27, 2020. Cases have dropped dramatically since then, with the state’s Health Department dashboard reporting some 600 confirmed cases on Monday.
The CDC reported some 950 weekly cases in the state per 100,000 population between Dec. 28 and Jan 3.
But hospitalizations remain at a critical juncture. Hospital occupancy data in Detroit, Monroe and Washtenaw and Wayne Counties show near full occupancy for hospital beds. For example, as of Jan. 3, the region had 578 out of 688 adult ICU beds occupied. This includes an alarming number of children in hospitals for COVID-19 — 96 children according to the Jan 3 data, a new record.
In a letter to families, Interim Superintendent Nabil Nagi said the district made the decision to extend online learning after careful consideration.
“We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause our families, as we hoped to return to regular in-person classes after January 7, but we recognize this is the best solution to ensure the safety of our school community,” the letter read. “As the pandemic continues to surge, we’re reminded that we must remain diligent in keeping the health of our students, staff and community members our top priority. We will continue to monitor the cases in our county and stay updated with the Wayne County Health Department to make informed decisions that best serve our students.”
Nagi said the district aims to make this as smooth a transition as possible to avoid any disruptions this may cause in the schools and trusts that HPS staff and students are well-equipped to handle changes such as this.
“The safety and well-being of our entire school community remain a top priority,” Nagi said. “Thank you for your partnership in your child’s education and for your continued commitment to the safety and well-being of our community.”
This week, the Detroit Public Schools Community District, the state’s largest public schools district, made a similar call to keep all 50,000 students home until Jan. 14 amid the COVID-19 surge.
The highly contagious “superspreader” Omicron has put a wrench in back-to-school plans in the southeast Michigan region, as the Biden administration continues to push to keep students in classes and parents at work. The FDA authorized COVID-19 booster shots for children as young as 12-years-old this week.