Teachers union calls for special meeting as MPS return looms

Milwaukee Public Schools students go back to the classroom Wednesday, April 14.

However, the teachers union said it isn't confident that MPS administration will have enough substitutes to cover all classes.

The union, Milwaukee Teachers' Education Association (MTEA), is calling on the school board to host a special meeting to get more information about the reopening plan. There isn't much time left, as teachers are expected to report to the classroom Monday.

"MTEA is deeply concerned about where we are on Friday afternoon," said MTEA President Amy Mizialko.

With only a few days before the youngest MPS students return, the union said there are some important questions left unanswered.

Some of the union's questions include what spaced will be used for overflow when classes have more than 18 students, and how will those overflow spaces be staffed.

"We know we could get off to a disastrous start if we don’t have a real plan," said Mizialko.

MTEA said the district has requested 104 substitute teachers just for the elementary schools.

"We haven’t had a fully staffed substitute pool in this district since Act 10, so vacancies and simply having the needed adults to cover classrooms and to make sure that students have teachers in front of them is very concerning to us," said Mizialko.

Friday, MTEA called on the board on the school board to call a special meeting for early next week. About a week ago, Director Sequanna Taylor responded to a similar request on her Facebook page, writing: "I have no issue with a special meeting, my concern is what can be changed during that meeting."

Taylor was one of two board members who voted against the reopening plan. 

"We need school board members to do their jobs in holding the administration accountable," said Mizialko

MTEA President Amy Mizialko

Mizialko added that teachers' concerns are now even greater with COVID-19 variant cases on the rise.

"The B.1.1.7 variant changes everything," said Mizialko.

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FOX6 News reached out to MPS for comment on Friday. The district issued the following statement:

"Milwaukee Public Schools is ready for safe in-person learning with our students and staff starting next week. Staff throughout the district have worked around the clock to prepare our classrooms to be safe for our students and one another, navigating in-person and virtual learning simultaneously.  

"Families and students are excited to return to in-person learning and we are elated to offer that option to them.  With all mitigation strategies in place, we look forward to a safe and welcoming return for our staff on Monday and our students beginning Wednesday."

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