MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) will conduct all its classes virtually starting Tuesday as the latest wave of the coronavirus infects staff across the district.
"Our concern is both safety of students and the staffing. If we are down considerable staff, there has to be more students together in a classroom. If we have more students together in a classroom, the more likely the spread of the virus," said MPS School Board President Bob Peterson.
The goal, according to a letter released by district Superintendent Keith Posley, is to return to in-person instruction on Jan. 10.
But that will depend on a day-to-day assessment of staffing levels and the overall health risk to everyone in the buildings.
According to Peterson, hundreds of staff members have tested positive for Covid-19.
In a Facebook post, the Milwaukee Teacher's Education Association said it had pushed for a shift virtual, to allow time for staff testing and assessment.
The district has designated six sites around the city for testing.
Outside the Wisconsin Conservatory of Lifelong Learning, Michael Ortiz, a parent of two students, said the measures will be hard for working parents.
"My job, I'm occupied throughout the day, their mother is also [busy]," said Ortiz. "We're going to have to make a lot of changes of stuff, but if it's for the bettering of the children, we can go that route."
Ortiz also said, based on his family experience with virtual last year, it's not as effective as a classroom.
"It makes it harder for the kids to learn. Cause a lot of kids have to learn in person, have the hand on direct experience with the teachers," said Ortiz. "I did see that they were learning better when they were in class."
MPS is offering laptops and other technology for some students to study remotely. Those are available at schools from Tuesday morning.
The district is also offering meals between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. at Stop, Grab & Go locations around Milwaukee.