School districts in SE Wisconsin make plans as fall classes approach: 'Doing everything we can'

MILWAUKEE -- President Donald Trump has threatened to cut federal aid if schools don't reopen in the fall. Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday, July 8 reiterated the message, saying he wants schools to reopen, too.

So, what will the start of the school year look like for students in southeastern Wisconsin? Many districts are still formulating their plans.

Angie Eske is waiting for her daughter's school district to serve up a plan for fall classes.

"I feel that the kids need to get back into the in-person school atmosphere," Eske said.

With the start of school right around the corner, many school districts are still trying to figure out how they will operate during the pandemic.

Kettle Moraine High School

On Monday, July 6, Kettle Moraine School District announced its intent to start the school year with face-to-face instruction while also providing an alternative.

"We are doing everything we can to open schools in the fall, and we are doing everything we can to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus," said Patricia Deklotz, Kettle Moraine School district superintendent. "We will be offering fully-virtual instruction for students who have parents who don't feel it's in their best interest to return to a physical classroom space."

Deklotz has been working closely with county health leaders to draft a plan for the fall. Precautionary measures will extend to the classroom and beyond, with regular hand-washing and physical distancing when possible. Face masks will not be mandatory.

"There are students that have physical or emotional reasons why they cannot wear a mask," Deklotz said. "That needs to be respected."

Milwaukee Public Schools administration building

At the state's largest school district, Milwaukee Public Schools is taking a wait-and-see approach. A survey went out to parents that is due back July 8, and it will be couple with feedback from various stakeholders before the school board announces its reopening plan next week.

For parents like Eske, safety is a concern but education is a priority.

"We all have to keep living. That's the biggest thing," said Eske.

The School District of Waukesha is also planning for face-to-face learning in the fall, but stresses that plans are in flux. Waukesha hopes to get more information to parents and students by the end of the month.