Governor Evers floats allowing K-12 schools to open before Sept. 1

Gov. Tony Evers

Allowing schools to open earlier and bolstering their summer school offerings are both being floated by Gov. Tony Evers as ways to help students catch up after a year of virtual learning during the coronavirus pandemic.

Allowing schools to open before Sept. 1 for the 2021-2022 academic year would require a law change. The Legislature has balked at previous attempts to loosen the opening date under pressure from the state's tourism industry that backs having students available to work summer jobs up until September.

Evers said at a event on Tuesday that opening earlier than September was something that "might" have to be done temporarily.

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Evers, who spent 10 years as state superintendent of schools, urged schools to consider what can be done to help students catch up.

"There’s no question in my mind that regardless of the way this pandemic played out in schools, that there is going to be a learning loss and I’m hopeful that school districts will have very robust summer school sessions," Evers said on Tuesday. "If I was back in the school district that’s what I would be looking at right now."

Evers on Tuesday and again in a Wednesday interview on Wisconsin Public Radio stood by his decision to allow local school districts to decide when to reopen. Republicans have been pressuring Evers to force schools to return to in-person learning sooner.