MILWAUKEE — Since the pandemic began Wisconsin schools have tackled hard choices on how to move forward.
Now, they will be getting guidance from the White House as President-Elect Joe Biden announced his team's goals to reopen schools.
Part of what's called the "American Rescue Plan" calls on Congress to provide $170 billion to reopen K-12 schools, colleges, and universities. It also includes a push to specifically reopen a majority of K-8 schools after his administration's first 100 days.
"We can do this if we give school districts, the schools themselves the clear guidance they need, as well as, the resources," President-Elect Biden said during a speech on Thursday.
Most of that money could be used for several things including modifying spaces for social distancing, improving ventilation, personal protective equipment, hiring counselors, and addressing digital challenges.
"Certainly there is an urgency to return on-site, but that can only be done when it's safe, not from an arbitrary number of 100 days," said Amy Mizialko, President of the Milwaukee Teachers' Education Association.
Mizialko thinks the plan is a start after the last several months, but adds while community spread has yet to be contained there is a monumental amount of work left at the national, state, and local levels.
"We have to work backward from what measures and gating criteria would ensure that our students and public education staff are safe," said Mizialko.
While Biden’s plan may sound aggressive, Republicans in the state legislature are pushing schools to return to the classroom much sooner.
"I'm excited for an actual plan and work to begin, but there is a great deal to do after a year of failure to act on the part of many entities," said Mizialko.