MILWAUKEE - It’s their last year of high school, but Monday, April 26 was the first day back in class for Milwaukee Public Schools seniors who returned to face-to-face learning for the first time in more than a year. They were part of the last group of kids finally able to get back into the buildings before the school year ends.
Seniors and those students in grades nine through 11 who need additional support were welcomed back Monday, with Superintendent Keith Posley greeting students and staff at several schools. He made his way across town as kids said they're glad to be getting the interaction they need.
"I’m excited," said Brelynn Gayton.
Gayton was ready to return to James Madison Academic Campus.
"I feel like this is a great thing," said Gayton. "I've had a hard time focusing on online school because I have so many distractions."
The ninth-grader was among the last group of students phased in for in-person learning at Milwaukee Public Schools.
"Excitement is in the air. Academics is in the air," said Posley.
Superintendent Posley made his rounds, welcoming students back and talking about their experience.
"Young people are excited to be back," said Posley.
As 12th-graders and those in grades nine through 11 who need additional support returned to class after being virtual all year, and with some kids struggling with schoolwork, Principal Larry Farris said the plan is to catch kids up and push seniors to finish strong.
"We are fortunate to keep our partnership with New Life, so we will be doing some after-school support as well starting Thursday for students who need the extra additional support," said Farris. "Our seniors just returning, we did a lot with FAFSA for the last two weekends to make sure their next steps in life are secured."
Meanwhile, parents said they're thankful kids are getting the education and social-emotional exposure.
"I just wanted her to get that whole high school experience just a little bit," one parent said. "Just to meet some people and build some friendships in these last couple of weeks."
Monday marked the final phase of the district's in-person learning rollout.
Looking ahead, plans are already underway for summer. The district is planning extra summer school sessions. Normally, they plan for about 7,500 students. This year, 23,000 are expected.