The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Detroit’s MLK High School Students Protest

Nov 22, 2021

On Wednesday, November 17th, about 200 students at Martin Luther King, Jr. High School in Detroit, joined by some of their teachers, took their health and safety into their own hands by walking out and protesting over problems related to COVID at their school. They talked about how their administration has under-reported cases of COVID among students and teachers, and how there is little social distancing and no deep cleaning.

At the protest, students spoke up, saying that it’s not just their school where there are multiple COVID cases that have not been addressed: “… too many people are catching it and they’re not even closing it”, said one student. Another said, “Either shut us down or get us right.” And, “We are out here trying to get our schools clean.”

So far, the administration’s response to the protest is for Friday classes to be moved to online to allow for deep cleaning. And the entire Detroit public school district is also making that switch.

But one day of deep cleaning, by itself, is not the answer.

You can’t socially distance if class sizes are too large—and that is still the case at most schools. Not to mention the fact that parents are, once again, put in the difficult situation of having to figure out what to do when schools are closed every Friday.

Twenty months into this pandemic, the vast majority of public schools have not been transformed into the safe schools they could be—with more and bigger ventilated buildings, fewer students in classes, more teachers and support staff; and more medical staff. Maintenance staff could keep up with the deep cleaning, on a daily basis, with sufficient numbers and the right tools.

These are the only real answers.