Federal Judge Rules All Detroit Summer School Students Must Be Tested for COVID-19

Federal Judge Rules All Detroit Summer School Students Must Be Tested for COVID-19
A school bus in a file photo. (Paul J. Richards/AFP via Getty Images)
Bill Pan

In-person summer classes in Detroit’s public schools may continue, but all students must first be tested for COVID-19 within five days, a federal judge ruled Tuesday.

The ruling comes after far-left activist group By Any Means Necessary (BAMN) filed a lawsuit against the Detroit Public Schools Community District in its latest attempt to stop the district from reopening its school buildings for in-person summer learning amid the pandemic.

"We have won a very important VICTORY today in our fight to SHUT DOWN in-person summer school in Detroit to protect Detroit schoolchildren and the community from infection and death," the group wrote on Facebook. "As a result of our hearing in front of Judge Tarnow today in Federal Court, a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) was signed which REQUIRED THE DETROIT SCHOOL DISTRICT TO TEST ALL STUDENTS PARTICIPATING IN IN-PERSON SUMMER SCHOOL FOR COVID-19."

The school district said in a statement that it will test the over 600 students currently attending in-person summer classes, even though it believes the court order lacks legal authority and creates unfairness. Those tests will be done at school through nasal swabs, and the results will return in 30 minutes.

"It is insulting to our parents that they must have their children COVID tested to receive public school services yet parents outside of the city can receive the same services without testing," the district's statement read. "We were never completely opposed to student testing but continue to question the legal authority to require parents to have their child tested to receive public school educational services, the inequity of requiring our students to test and other districts and schools not requiring the testing, and the burden it places on our parents who are already overwhelmed."

BAMN protesters, among whom were a number of public school teachers, have been rallying outside the district' bus garage since July 13 to block buses from leaving to pick up students for summer school. The Detroit Police Department took no action against the protesters until July 16, when the protests extended to the garage of ABC Student Transportation, a private business. At least a dozen people have been arrested as of Tuesday, the sixth day of protests.
"We issued the protesters three warnings on separate times letting them know they were in violation and they could possibly be arrested for disorderly conduct and they could also be cited for blocking traffic," Police Commander Arnold Williams told reporters following the first arrests. "After the third warning, we started to take some action, we started to make some arrests on some individuals."

"We want you to exercise your constitutional right but you can't cause other people any type of harm when you do it," Williams said. "Today they basically caused the business harm, and the students were actually trying to get to school."