MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Health Department has approved a plan for UW-Milwaukee to reopen with some in-person classes this fall. The city’s health commissioner said if other schools get their reopening plans approved, they too can have a mix of in-person and remote learning school starts back up.
School leaders, students and parents have had one question: ‘Will classes be in-person this fall?’ UWM now has its answer after the Milwaukee Health Department cleared the school for some face-to-face classes on campus.
For months, K-12 and higher education leaders have been working on plans to reopen with a mix of in-person and remote learning, but last week it became unclear whether their plans would move forward after learning the city’s current phase of reopening, Phase 4, prevented schools from holding in-person instruction. In response, the leaders banded together urging the city modify its order to allow some in-person learning, citing the impact it has on students’ education and the economy.
On Tuesday Milwaukee Health Commissioner Jeanette Kowalik cleared the air.
“It’s important for us to make sure we’re following standard guidelines on reopening, and not just pretty much leaving it for schools to figure out how to do it, that’s not fair,” Kowalik said. “Our kids deserve better than that, and we have to make sure we’re doing it in a mindful and science-based way.”
Kowalik said this information will come through a new phase called 4.1.
As a part of Phase 4.1, city health officials will provide standard procedures for the reopening of schools based on the state and CDC guidelines, along with the opportunity for schools to submit reopening plans for review.
Kowalik said schools will need to address all kinds of scenarios as a part of their plan in order for it to be approved.
“The plan’s extremely detailed. It covers all aspects of your operations from staff training to allowing accommodations, to tracking accommodations, to how you will conduct business virtually, how you will conduct your operations in the event of an outbreak, how you will message that information, even down to the cleaning products,” Kowalik said.
The details of Phase 4.1 will be released later this week or early next week.