DEARBORN — As one of the largest school districts in Michigan, Dearborn Public Schools says that it’s ready, but not yet planning to pull students out of classrooms.
In a recent article by WXYZ, a Fordson High School teacher said that attendance in his classes are low due to the spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19.
“The spread of Omicron is so rapid that we have, in the past two weeks, I had 20 to 30 percent of students at any given time,” Joseph Sicheneder, the ninth grade biology teacher, said in the article. “We want to try and minimize the amount of spreading that can happen in schools because schools are such a large gathering place.”
Yes, I want to keep students in classrooms, but I am not afraid nor will I hesitate to go online if need be. — Dearborn Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Glenn Maleyko
Sicheneder also reportedly voiced his concerns during a recent school board meeting, saying that learning face-to-face is a liability.
“We are exhausted, stressed,” he said. “And feel the district doesn’t have our safety in mind.”
According to the WXYZ report, Sicheneder and other teachers began an online petition listing “low vaccination rates, lack of COVID protocols and burnt-out staff” as reasons why the district should temporarily return to virtual learning.
Dearborn Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Glenn Maleyko told The Arab American News that the data provided is not correct.
“Our attendance is near pre-pandemic rates,” he said. “There have not been as many absences as have been portrayed and I get these reports daily. There has been a lot of misinformation regarding cases partially because the dashboard on our website shows positive cases that have occurred on school grounds. So if someone calls in stating they have been exposed or tested positive, we still keep that data in our records, but we do not count it in the dashboard. Also, when it comes to absences, some may be COVID-related and some we have seen are situations where the parents and student feel more comfortable staying home.”
Maleyko also said that the district is continuing its mitigation processes.
“We are prepared to go online if need be,” he said. “Everything we are aware of, we report it. Yes, I want to keep students in classrooms, but I am not afraid nor will I hesitate to go online if need be. We are still following mitigation processes in promoting KN95 masks, promoting vaccines and hosting vaccine clinics, and we are working on testing as well.”
In response to staff burn-out and exhaustion, Maleyko said that the district is all hands on deck.
“We have central office staff that are able to jump in as needed to help substitute anywhere that is required,” he said. “Just last week I even subbed a fifth grade class at Salina. We know that the staff is doing an incredible job and we are grateful for their hard work at remaining in person and following the mitigation processes.”
Maleyko also said that he continues to review data daily.
“I get refreshed data every single day and that data drives the decision-making,” he said. “We do not feel it is needed at this time. I will continue to review the data and make decisions based first on the classroom, then building and, if need be, the district as a whole.”