MILWAUKEE - After more than seven hours of debate, the Milwaukee Board of School Directors voted to approve an amended timeline for Milwaukee Public Schools' kids to return to in-person learning. Some students will not get an option for in-person learning this school year. Virtual learning remains an option for all families.
The board on Tuesday, March 23 heard three hours of public testimony from 90 people. At one point, the board was going to move the vote until after parents were surveyed, but there was then conflict on communicating with the bus companies.
In the end, the board voted as follows: Five in favor, two opposed, one abstained and one was temporarily absent.
"Us, as parents, we’re ready for it," said Jose Montana, father of five MPS students.
"Kids need to be back in buildings, learning face to face," said Tagred Khalil, parent of MPS student.
The new plan pushes back the originally expected start date. The April 12 reopening will begin with the return of all staff -- with two days dedicated to setting up.
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.
Parent engagement sessions will be held on the following dates:
- March 31, 2021
- April 14, 2021
- April 21, 2021
"I, as a parent, will not be sending my child back to school because you have not proven to me that it is safe or worth disrupting his routine," said Sarah Gruettner.
Parents will get a survey by the end of the week asking if their student is coming back in-person and if they need to take the bus.
"We also recognize that we will not make everyone happy, but we want to give families and students a choice whether they want to have in-person instruction or whether they want to remain virtual," said MPS Superintendent Keith Posley.
The teachers union Wednesday requested greater transparency while also requesting guidance on K-3 and K-4 students.
"Members are understandably and first concerned about how they can best teach students and keep them safe," said Amy Mizialko, president of the Milwaukee Teachers' Education Association.
Other amendments include only 15 students per classroom, 10 percent of each school staff and students will be tested every other week, air quality will be tested monthly. If there are three COVID-19 cases in a school, the school will go virtual for 14 days.