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Milwaukee Public Schools approves recommended gradual in-person learning timeline

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Posted at 8:01 PM, Jan 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-29 17:36:05-05

MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee Public Schools' Board of School Directors voted unanimously to approve a recommended timeline during a Board meeting Thursday night for students to gradually return to in-person learning over the next few months.

According to the recommendation, students with disabilities who require in-person learning, as well as virtual instruction, would start face-to-face learning Feb. 8 at three school locations. Board members said this impacts about 300 students.

Then the recommendation states students in Pre-K through 2nd grade would begin in-person learning on April 12. Grades 3 through 8 would start on April 19, and grades 9 through 12 would begin April 26.

With February 8 less than two weeks away some school board directors raised questions on Thursday about reaching families who have students with special needs. The district will rely on SPED teachers to volunteer to teach for the Feb. 8 time frame.

The senior director of Specialized Services Jennifer Mims said the district will review the number of eligible students this weekend and start contacting those families next week.

"Parents will be contacted to let them know that their child has been selected as one of the 300 students that can receive in person services. These are students who have therapies and mandated services along with academics," said Mims.

The recommendation states the administration will give an update on the phased-in plan in March.

The recommendation also addresses PPE, contact tracing, isolation rooms, and ventilation guidelines for MPS buildings.

A survey of MPS parents showed out of nearly 24,000 responses, 39 percent reported they would prefer to continue with virtual learning. The survey showed 29 percent said they would send their children back to the classroom if public health guidance said it was safe, while 25 percent said they would return as soon as possible. Seven percent reported they would return when a vaccine is available.

During a committee meeting on Tuesday, school board members, administrators, parents, students and teachers discussed the plan for more than four hours. During the public comment session, many people said they want MPS to remain virtual, citing slow vaccine rollout and poor ventilation in some MPS schools.

The Centers for Disease Control released the results of a study Tuesday about 17 rural schools in Wood County, Wisconsin. The study found 191 students and staff had contracted Covid-19 between August and November, and seven of those cases were linked to in-school spread.

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