'Students need a bailout:' MPS teachers, administrators question possible return to classrooms

MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee Public Schools teachers and administrators are weighing in on the district's proposed reopening plan, expressing concerns about a possible return to the classroom this fall.

Angela Harris

Members of the teachers union say they support the district's recommendation to begin virtually this fall, but many want to know how the district plans to measure when it is safe to transition to in-person learning.

Angela Harris, a first-grade teacher with MPS, said she won't feel comfortable with in-person instruction until the City of Milwaukee reports no new COVID-19 cases for at least 14 days.

"I know that it probably seems super unrealistic for some folks, but we have to set the barometer somewhere in terms of our health and safety," Harris said.

Harris, who is chair of the Black Educators Caucus, wants the school board to use the 14-day measurement to decide when it will allow students back into the classroom, noting the racial inequities that many children in the district face.

"Definitely a lot of hot spots in our city are in areas that are predominantly black and are predominantly where our students live," said Harris.

Amy Mizialko

Amy Mizialko, president of the Milwaukee Teachers Education Association (MTEA), said it is too early to tell if that period of time is the best way to determine when to open school doors. She urges the district to focus on ensuring that all families have access to internet and childcare for virtual learning to take place.

"You know, the science evolves on COVID every single day," Mizialko said. "There needs to be guaranteed income during this time...Every family needs to be able to count on that there is WiFi and connectivity.

"Our students need a bailout."

Representatives from the different organizations will be sharing their recommendations during a special school board meeting to finalize reopening plans on Thursday, July 16.