Flint, MI—Flint Community Schools will return to virtual learning beginning Jan. 5 until Jan. 7, 2022, due to a recent spike in COVID-19 cases.

The district will close to students Jan. 3 and Jan. 4, during which time teachers will prepare for the transition online, Superintendent Kevelin Jones wrote in a letter to students and parents.

“I apologize for the late notice and any inconvenience this causes our families, but we had hoped to be able to return for in-person learning after the holiday break. Unfortunately, with the rising number of cases across the County, we believe it is in the best interest of our school community to delay the return to in-person learning at this time,” Jones wrote.

School officials are watching the situation and have yet to decide when students will return in-person, Joe DiBenedetto of Lambert Public Relations said, the district’s communications firm.

“As of today, it’s only for Wednesday- Friday of this week. The district will continue to monitor the number of cases in the community and county, and work with the local health department to determine when to return to in-person learning,” DiBenedetto said.

According to the MI Safe Start Map, a dashboard that tracks COVID risk metrics for counties in Michigan, Genesee County is at “High risk” for COVID transmission. This means the county exceeds certain case rate thresholds.

For the week of Dec. 21-28, 2021, the weekly case rate was 429 cases per 100,000 residents, far above the threshold of 100 cases. For the same week, the testing positivity rate reached 25.4%, much higher than the threshold of 10%.

Since the fall semester began until Dec. 7, 2021, the last time Flint schools updated their COVID dashboard, there have been 116 positive cases within the district.

Prior to the district’s decision, community members, students, and teachers from across Genesee County rallied together to put pressure on area schools to go virtual.

“It’s not worth it,” Marlis Settle, a Brownell STEM Academy staff member, said during the rally. 

An update will be provided to families later this week, DiBenedetto said.

Carmen Nesbitt is a journalist with diverse experience in news reporting and feature writing. She wrote for Hour Detroit and SEEN Magazine before joining the Flint Beat news team as an education and public...