MILWAUKEE — The Centers For Disease Control is issuing guidance for schools looking to return students to classrooms safely. Part of the success of the guidance includes lots of COVID-19 testing.
As the pandemic reaches nearly a year's length, numbers in many states are finally trending in the right direction. Many schools are eyeing ways to safely keep students and staff in classrooms.
Elizabeth Aviles, a teacher at St. Raphael the Archangel School in Milwaukee, said she is eager to continue teaching her students in-person.
She said she's now getting COVID-19 tests every two weeks to know her status.
"We get tested to make sure we're good on the COVID front,” Aviles said.
Monday, she and more than one hundred of her colleagues lined up for rapid testing.
"One of the things that was key to our safety plan for returning kids in-person was having multiple layers of protection in place,” said Melissa Benson, Director of Operations at Seton Catholic Schools. "Testing was another layer of protection we wanted to add."
In order to keep up with testing - and with the CDC’s safety guidance – Seton Catholic Schools teamed up with Milwaukee-based biotech company Novir.
"The testing has been underwhelmed for a really long time and this brings an additional layer of safety,” said Novir CEO Alexander Kempe.
However, not everyone is too sure of the CDC's guidance, which received pushback from a number of teachers' unions.
TMJ4 News received this statement from the Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association president, Amy Mizelko:
“While federal guidance and support has been lacking, and out of touch with the reality workers and students face in underfunded public schools, our position has not changed since the beginning of this pandemic. MTEA members are eager to rejoin their students in-person when it is safe. It is not yet safe.”
Kempe said his company is willing to work with districts like Milwaukee Public Schools if it helps students and staff return to class safely.
"Let's have the Milwaukee Public Schools come back to function in full force,” Kempe said.
In the meantime, teachers like Aviles said their top goals are staying healthy and keeping students engaged, whether in person or online.
“I think it’s all so that we are all safe and we have the opportunity to engage with our students, because we miss them and we want to see them every day,” Aviles said.