'Complicated decision:' Questions remain as MPS looks to determine fall learning plans

MILWAUKEE -- Officials with Milwaukee Public Schools are preparing to meet virtually on Thursday, July 16 with plans to determine how schools will navigate learning come fall.

It's a dilemma parents and caregivers likely didn't expect they'd be facing. However, as MPS officials explored back-to-school recommendations ahead of Thursday's meeting -- all of which include a virtual component -- it is becoming a reality for many.

Penelope Dixon

It's no surprise that COVID-19 is creating new challenges, but navigating this one is already proving complicated.

"It's a challenge," said Penelope Dixon, parent and Milwaukee Women's Center shelter manager. "I would definitely encourage the leaders and the stakeholders at MPS to really take into consideration knowing the demographics of the parents they serve."

Dixon said approximately 80% of the children she serves attend MPS schools. The shelter houses families that are experiencing homelessness or domestic violence. Many who stay have no option but to return to work.

"How can we make sure parents are still able to work and secure income so they can eventually move into permanent housing safely, and that children can still get an education," said Dixon.

MPS School Reopening Plan

Up for review Thursday by the school board is a 256-page MPS reopening plan which highlights three recommended phases -- full remote learning, hybrid learning and face-to-face instruction with a virtual option.

Christine Salerno

"We know the return to work is a complicated decision," said Christine Salerno with the YMCA of Metropolitan Milwaukee.

Salerno said that the YMCA is keeping an eye on the school district's decision; expecting a need, they hope to better prepare for their own programs.

"We are already hiring and looking at how we can help meet that need come fall," said Salerno.

Thursday night's MPS board meeting will start at 5:30 p.m. In the meantime, U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil is urging House leadership to support childcare in the next federal coronavirus relief bill.