Wisconsin's largest teachers unions call for online school

MADISON — Teachers unions for Wisconsin's five largest school districts asked Gov. Tony Evers and the state's top health and education officials on Monday to keep schools closed at the start of the year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The letter was signed by union leaders for teachers in Milwaukee, Madison, Green Bay, Kenosha and Racine. It was sent to Evers, Department of Public Instruction Secretary Carolyn Stanford Taylor and Department of Health Services Secretary Andrea Palm.

Our students need safe, equitable, well-resourced classrooms staffed with highly qualified educators, so they can learn," union leaders said in the letter. “The classroom is where every single educator wants to be this fall, but with no containment of Wisconsin COVID-19 cases, a virtual reopening for public schools is necessary.”

The Milwaukee and Madison districts have already announced that they plan to start the school year with online instruction only and will reassess later.

Evers, Palm and Stanford Taylor did not immediately return messages seeking comment. Evers said last week that he did not plan to issue an order closing schools this fall, leaving it to each district to decide how to proceed.

Cases of COVID-19 have been surging in Wisconsin since mid-June.