Since returning to school after a two week winter break, the number of COVID cases in schools has reflected the current uptick in COVID that was also seen across the state, county, and city. As the third week of classes since the January 3 return date comes to a close, attendance numbers for both students and staff appear to be improving.
Total staff absences, including instructional and non-instructional staff, declined over the three week period. The numbers were slightly higher than pre-holiday attendance but similar absentee rates have occurred in pre COVID conditions. Dearborn Public Schools employs approximately 2,700 full and part time staff members.
|Total Staff Absences||185||222||153||211||181||258||230||261||288||288||304|
Similarly, student attendance which averaged 80 to 85% during the first two weeks in January ended the third week with three straight days above 90%.
The District will continue to monitor conditions across the district and at the school and classroom level. As early as November, individual classrooms were moved to virtual, or distance learning, when needed. This was done for different reasons including COVID case numbers in a particular classroom, quarantine protocols, or students being in a high risk category.
“This process works well because it helps in the mitigation process and keeps students safe while not having the entire school move to distance learning. We would do the same on a school or grade level if needed,” commented Dearborn Schools Superintendent Dr. Glenn Maleyko.
During the school year the number of COVID related absences has varied between schools with some larger schools seeing high case numbers while other schools had few or zero cases in any given week. Moving the entire district to virtual would not make sense for schools with low absences. In all schools, the vast majority of COVID cases have been the result of community spread and very few, if any, cases appear to be the result of spread at school.
Since the start of the pandemic the District has taken several measures to keep students and staff safe. Following COVID protocols, including mask mandates and encouraging vaccines, has been a part of the process.
When vaccines were still very difficult to find, Dearborn was one of the first districts to partner with DMC, Henry Ford Health, and Wayne County Health Department to secure thousands of vaccines for staff and then students. More than 2,100 staff members have provided the district with a copy of their vaccine card, and hundreds of students have taken part in clinics held in the schools. Staff members were given paid time off last spring to get vaccinated and to recover from any side effects. The District continues to coordinate with local organizations to bring COVID vaccine clinics to schools. Upcoming clinics are as follows:
- Howe Montessori and Trainable Center, 22586 Ann Arbor Trail, Dearborn Heights, first clinic Monday, Jan. 24 and second clinic Feb. 14 from 3 to 7 p.m.
- Becker Elementary, 10821 Henson, Dearborn, first clinic Wednesday, Jan. 26 and second clinic Feb. 16 from 3 to 7 p.m.
- Nowlin Elementary, 23600 Penn, Dearborn, first clinic Thursday, Jan. 27 and second clinic Feb. 17 from 3 to 7 p.m.
- Lindbergh Elementary, 500 N. Waverly, Dearborn, on Saturday, Jan. 29 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Salina Intermediate, 2623 Salina, on Feb. 9 from 3 to 7 p.m. (Lindbergh and Salina are both second clinics. Visitors can still start their COVID vaccinations at that clinic, but they would need to schedule a second dose at a different C-ASSIST location.)
COVID testing has also been a part of the overall mitigation plan. Last spring the district provided limited COVID 19 testing in schools and held drive through testing sites. Almost 4,000 of the hard to come by rapid test kits will be in schools by next week. Dearborn Schools has also partnered with two different companies, one Dearborn based, to provide both rapid and PCR testing for students and staff.
“All of our staff members are working very hard to ensure that our buildings are safe, our students are fed, they arrive at school, and that we are implementing our mitigation protocols to keep students learning in school. I commend all staff members for their dedication to our students and families, and for their passion and perseverance during these trying times,” added Dr. Maleyko.