'Serve our students:' Milwaukee schools may reopen under health department-approved criteria

MILWAUKEE -- Individual schools across Milwaukee may now be permitted to hold partial in-person instruction this fall, but only if they get prior approval by the Milwaukee Health Department.

Marquette University High School will be submitting its reopening proposal to the health department by the end of the day Wednesday, July 22.

"We've done a lot of planning. We've committed a lot of resources," Marquette's Principal Jeff Monday said.

Marquette University High School

Monday told FOX6 News that the school's plan includes a mask mandate, daily screenings and splitting-up the student between remote and in-person learning to allow for more social distancing in the classroom.

"When they enter school, they need to report to one of four kiosks that we have set up that takes the temperature of the students," said Monday. "There's a facial recognition feature so that we track the data of our students specific to the individual students."

Currently, the City of Milwaukee's safety order prohibits public and private K-12 schools and colleges from holding any in-person instruction. Health Commissioner Jeanette Kowalik said schools could qualify for an exemption, however, if they reopening proposals meet specific criteria.

"It covers all aspects of your operations, from staff training to allowing accommodations to tracking accommodations to how you will conduct business virtually to how you will conduct your operations in the event of an outbreak," Kowalik said.

UW-Milwaukee is already getting the green light from the city this week to reopen classes. The Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design is hoping to follow suit.

"When we say opening, we're not talking about, bam everything's back to normal. We're talking about phased," said Kowalik.

Monday said Marquette University High School is pursuing the exemption after listening to parents' and students' feedback this spring, the majority of whom prefer in-person learning as long as precautions are in place.

"We need to serve our students by being with them," Monday said.

The Milwaukee Health Department will be releasing a revised city safety order called "4.1" in the coming week. That revision will provide an easy-to-follow template for schools that wish to create a reopening plan but don't know where to start.