Milwaukee Public Schools board approves reopening plan for 2020-21 year

NOW: Milwaukee Public Schools board approves reopening plan for 2020-21 year

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Updated: 12:54 p.m. on Friday, July 17

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) board members, on Thursday, July 16, unanimously approved the three-phase plan to reopen schools.

The Milwaukee Teachers' Education Association (MTEA) president, Amy Mizialko, said she is satisfied with the decision, but there’s still a lot of planning needed.

"There’s a massive amount of work to be done starting toward and going forward to be ready for students and families," she said. "We were glad to see the unanimous vote from the school board."

The school year will start August 17.

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) board members, on Thursday, July 16, unanimously approved the three-phase plan to reopen schools.

The approach begins with full virtual learning (Phase 1), a transition into hybrid learning (Phase 2), and then face-to-face learning with virtual option (Phase 3).

MPS released its 200+ page report, the "Roadmap to Readiness" detailing the $90 million proposal, on Monday, July 13.

In a Thursday news release the district wrote: "MPS will start the school year with virtual learning for all students. As the spread of COVID-19 decreases, students will return to schools for two days each week for face-to-face learning and virtual three days each week. Phase three will allow all students to return to the classroom five days a week, when conditions are healthy to return. MPS will monitor public health conditions to determine movement between each phase.

“To help preserve the health and well-being of our students and staff, we believe virtual learning is the best scenario at this time," MPS Superintendent Dr. Keith P. Posley said. “This was a difficult decision but a necessary one as we work diligently to provide the best education for our students. We look forward to returning to in-class instruction but only when we can do so safely.”

Dr. Posley also said plans are in the works to give students time to prepare for testing, and to give staff additional professional development days.

More than 90 people registered for public comment during Thursday's meeting.

Some parents and teachers said they distrusted the district’s ability to do virtual learning, and to also keep facilities clean.

Other concerns were social distancing and making small children wear masks.

“Our kids are the only ones left behind. They can’t play sports, and now they can’t go to school. Summer camps are not opening back up, yet they see bars open, restaurants open, stores open. Everything is trying to thrive and continue except this," one parent said.

The Milwaukee Teachers' Education Association (MTEA) is part of a coalition of Milwaukee organizations that support beginning with virtual learning. 

"It's the only safe measure that can be taken right now. We've seen a failure of government from federal, state, and locally to take action to get this virus under control," said MTEA President Amy Mizialko. 

Leaders Igniting Transformation (LIT) also provided this statement to CBS 58: "LIT supports MPS' decision to start school virtually in fall, and remain virtual until data show our schools are safe. Distance teaching during a crisis is not accessible for all students, especially those who need it most, and we continue to call on MPS to address this inequity head on. This public health disaster deeply impacts students' safety, and all our local and state officials must step up to get COVID-19 under control and provide resources to support students and communities in crisis."

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