MPS reopening plan to be voted on Thursday; concerns over 'health and safety of our students'

MILWAUKEE -- It's going to be very fluid, which is news parents and teachers likely do not want to hear. If approved, Milwaukee Public Schools will begin with remote learning in the fall — and gradually work its way back to normalcy in the classroom.

Nori Carter

Nori Carter is used to being surrounded by kids every day. But now this daycare worker is preparing for a new role: teacher.

"We need new teachers, more teachers and I'll probably have to pick up the slack here and there," Carter said.

With Milwaukee Public Schools set to vote on its 256-page, 90-million dollar fall reopening plan Thursday night, people like Carter are bracing for weeks — or months — of virtual learning. It's creating a problematic situation for parents who work — and daycares flooding with school-aged children.

"How do you teach your children online if you have to put them in child care?" Carter said.

Groups like the Black Educators Caucus have asked the school board to return to in-person learning when the city of Milwaukee reports no new COVID-19 cases for at least two weeks.

Cases are on the rise.

The MPS plan is broken down into three phases: full remote learning; hybrid learning; and face-to-face learning with a virtual option.

"The health and safety of our students, staff, and community is paramount," Poslet said.

MPS Superintendent Dr. Keith Posley says the criteria for moving between phases is still being worked out.

Dr. Keith Posley

"The rate of infection. The trajectory of infection throughout a 14 day period," Posley said.

In other words, expect change and plan for a unique fall.

"We just have to ride it out, wait it out and hope for the best," Carter said.

"Phase one allows students to learn virtually for 30-45 school days," Posley said.

Kids rotate between in-person and virtual learning.. under phase two.
and return to the building full-time under phase three. Movement from one phase to the next, will be dependent on monitoring the spread of COVID-19.

"We will continue to be adaptive to the needs of our community as this pandemic evolves," Posley said.

The plan has prompted passionate debate. High school teachers told the board virtual learning is best — because it's the safest choice.

"I'm 100% for virtual," MPS teacher Bradley Cramer said. "Disease doesn't care about our social constructs."

Other parents argued.. keeping kids home can be just as dangerous. because kids can become socially isolated... or academically fall behind.

"I'm all for two days on two days off. It's the best. I'm against virtual," said Shanda Norten, a middle school parent & coach.

Some families are so passionate about children reporting to the classroom. They told the board.. if MPS doesn't allow kids back in the building, they will find another district that will.

"I reject this 3-phase plan. We need to fully open our schools," Joshua Fritz said. "If in-person learning does not resume we will be forced to look for a school option outside of MPS."

This is a developing story.