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Milwaukee college and university leaders push for in-person classes with safety measures

Posted at 7:31 PM, Jul 20, 2020

MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee's colleges and universities are urging city officials to modify their public health order to allow in-person classes with protective measures.

They say the alternative could spark lasting consequences.

Leaders at Mount Mary University and Milwaukee School of Engineering believe they can safely welcome students back to in-person classes with safety protocols.

"For most of our courses, we'd be cutting those capacities in half. So we'd be bringing no more than 10 to 15 students together in a laboratory or classroom environment as well as many other protocols such as a mandatory mask policy," said Eric Baumgartner, MSOE's Vice President of Academics.

There is concern that losing in-person classes completely would significantly hurt enrollment, jobs, and the future of the economy.

"What is that going to do to people for the employment situation for years from now? It's really, can we do this in a safe way so as not to have a harmful impact on students not to have a harmful impact on the economy," said Christine Pharr, President of Mount Mary University.

Mount Mary University and MSOE along with several other schools sent a letter to Mayor Tom Barrett asking the city to modify the public health order for higher education institutions, citing steps to follow CDC and government guidelines like face masks, testing, and tracing.

"We want what's best for everybody. We want to keep people safe and we want students to get a good education we think we can do it," said Pharr.

Mayor Barrett released a statement late Monday afternoon saying he would like for schools to have the option for in-person classes, adding the Health Department will continue to meet with educators to evaluate proposals to for both virtual and in-person classes.

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