MPS: Power outages force virtual learning at 14 schools

Powerful overnight winds caused power outages, forcing 14 Milwaukee Public Schools to switch to virtual learning Thursday, Dec. 16

The outages darkened schools, forcing the 14 MPS schools to adopt virtual learning for the day – a blueprint that was already provided by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"It has given us another tool to educate children, but it also stresses parents and caregivers," said Eileen Force Cahill, Milwaukee Public Library system director of communications.

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Students without power were directed to public libraries, which offer resources like desktop computers and laptops.

"Obviously we’ve got our amazing staff who are here to help kids find the resources that can help them in their school day or any day," Cahill said.

Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS)

Children must be 9 years old or older to go to Milwaukee public libraries without an adult.

MPS told FOX6 that staff would work with students having trouble with virtual learning, anticipating a return to normal Friday as crews do what they can to restore service. The district said it will inform families of plans for Friday as soon as possible.

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"Rest assured we’re working as quickly and safely as we can to restore service to our customers," said Kevin Fletcher, WEC Energy Group president and CEO.

As of Thursday around 4 p.m., the We Energies Outage Map showed roughly 13,000 Milwaukee County customers still without service.

We Energies update

We Energies told FOX6 News that power has been restored to more than 100,000 customers thus far, hoping to restore power for 80% of those impacted by midnight and 90-95% before Saturday.

Winds had plenty of power, so much so that it left tens of thousands without power across the region.

We Energies

"When you have that, you can imagine what happens," said Fletcher. "The trees and limbs can and do fall, which has happened here – takes down lines breaks poles."

The wind, though it has died down, is still a challenge as We Energies crews and contractors work on repairs. Fletcher and his family were among those who lost power.

"We understand how frustrating it is to be without power," Fletcher said.

Impacted MPD schools

Students and staff who attend the following schools were forced to go virtual and learn remotely Thursday:

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