MILWAUKEE - After more than seven hours of debate, the Milwaukee Board of School Directors voted to approve an amended timeline for a portion of Milwaukee Public Schools' kids to return to in-person learning. A big question following that vote is transportation.
That issue is a big reason why the superintendent did not want delay the vote on returning to the classroom. He said MPS does not own their buses and they needed to give bus companies a reopening date soon.
"There are so many questions," said Nicolo Onorato.
One of the many topics discussed during a seven-hour school board meeting Tuesday night, March 23 was the transportation of students during the coronavirus pandemic.
"How will students get there?" asked Onorato.
Members of the public voiced questions and concerns.
"Will county buses drive past our kids because only 15 of riders are allowed at a time?" said Onorato. "It would take 53 buses to get the approximate 800 students that rely on public transportation to get home after school. Who is going to pay for that? Who is going to coordinate it?"
MPS officials said students taking a school bus will be required to practice social distancing, and there will be assigned seating. Parents will get information prior to school reopening.
"Bus route cards will be mailed to all families prior to reopening. This includes students who received the specialized transportation for Head Start, special education or other programs," said Jennifer Smith, MPS regional superintendent.
Superintendent Keith Posley did not want to delay a vote on reopening any further, saying bus companies contracted by MPS needed a reopening date sooner than later.
"But I also would ask if we could look at a decision on whether we are coming back or not because we got to get buses, and we don’t own our buses, and we are working with bus companies and they need a ramp-up of when we’re going to open school doors," said Posley.
A spokesperson for MPS said they are in the process of updated helpful transportation information and will make that available once it is approved and ready to go.
Instruction will revert to four days of in-person learning and virtual instruction on Wednesdays. In-person learning will begin on the following dates:
- April 14, 2021: K3 through Grade 3
- April 19, 2021: Grade 4 through Grade 8
- April 26, 2021: High school seniors and students in danger of failing. All other Freshmen, Sophomores and Juniors will remain in virtual learning for the remainder of the school year.
A virtual option will be available for families who do not wish to return to in-person learning.
Schools will survey families beginning on March 26 to determine if their child will be attending in-person or remain virtual for the remainder of the school year. Families will also be surveyed regarding transportation needs.