Detroit district, union pact gives teachers $2,000 to work inside school buildings

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Teachers in the Detroit school district will receive $2,000 in hazard pay for teaching in person during the upcoming school year. More money would be available for teachers who teach in person and online.

A new letter of agreement between the Detroit Public Schools Community District and the Detroit Federation of Teachers came as the district also outlined safety protocols — which include mandatory COVID testing for unvaccinated staff and a required 3 feet of social distancing — they say will ensure student and staff safety. Students and employees who are not vaccinated or who provide no documentation that they are will be required to wear face masks.

Last year, teachers who worked in school buildings received as much as $3,000 in hazard pay. The state also provided hazard pay of $500 to teachers and support staff across Michigan.

Superintendent Nikolai Vitti said during a school board committee meeting Monday that the agreement ensures that all Detroit teachers will return to school buildings in the fall. He has previously said a vast majority of teachers were expected back in school buildings.


“We are all excited to have our students back in schools and classrooms in the fall,” Vitti said in a statement. “This agreement signals that we are all on the same page to restart our reform efforts that had great momentum before the pandemic.”

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The district and union have been working for months to iron out an agreement that will guide reopening decisions for the 2021-22 school year. Last year, when the pandemic was affecting Detroit more than many other communities, the district and union agreed to allow teachers to decide whether to teach in person or online.

A return to school buildings by all Detroit teachers is a huge shift from the last school year when thousands of students who wanted to learn inside school buildings couldn’t because there weren’t enough teachers willing to join them.

Vitti said at a recent meeting that more than 70% of district teachers have been vaccinated.

In addition to the $2,000 in hazard pay, teachers who work in person and online will receive an additional $2,000.

The district’s school board approved a plan July 13 to open a new virtual school that will be operated independently. There would be limits on which students could enroll in the virtual school. For instance, students who failed at least one class last school year would not be able to enroll unless they have a medical reason that requires remote learning.

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