(CBS DETROIT) – Maybury Elementary School teacher Benjamin Royal is falling back from returning to class this fall.

The fourth and fifth-grade instructor is rejecting an agreement made between the Detroit Public Schools Community District and the Detroit Federation of Teachers.

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Union and district administrators reached a deal to reopen schools, but Royal says since COVID-19 is constantly evolving, he’s concerned about the health and safety of students.

“The idea that it is now safe to reopen when a majority of the students are still not even eligible for a vaccine is just completely ludicrous,” said Royal. “It is going to lead to a spike in hospitalizations.”

The agreement calls for daily screenings, three-feet desk separation, PPE, and mandatory weekly COVID-19 tests for non-vaccinated staff.

Royal also said,Basically, doing everything they can to limit the remote options for students and staff. Basically, deciding a whole list of criteria that leaves a very small number of students to be even eligible. That’s not acceptable. What happened to this whole idea that the superintendent and the board talk about all these ideas of choice?  They are now taking that choice away from people and telling them you’ve got to go into the schools.”

Teachers and auxiliary staff will also be offered up to $2,000 in hazard pay.

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Another $2,000 is available for teachers working in blended environments, both in-person and online, but Royal says that’s not an option he can support because the risks outweigh the reward.

On the bonuses, what is essentially happening is you have a district administration exploiting the fact that the staff is underpaid to try and bribe them to risks their lives and come back in,” said Royal.

DPSCD Superintendent Dr. Nikolai Vitti said in a statement the District and DFT did everything they could to meet the needs of employees, students, and families.

Royal said, I don’t know of any teacher who would say that virtual learning is preferable. It’s not. It’s just not. It cannot do as well as in-person learning. But that’s not the point. The whole point of virtual learning is to save lives. Is to stop the spread of this virus.”

DPSCD students are scheduled to return to class on Sept. 7.

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