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Milwaukee teachers union raises concerns over students returning to schools this week

MPS Classroom
Posted at 8:46 PM, Apr 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-12 23:17:09-04

MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee Public Schools' kindergarten through third grade students are set to return to in-person learning on Wednesday, but the Milwaukee Teachers' Education Association (MTEA) said some classrooms are not adequately prepared.

“We’ve received numerous health and safety concerns, from educators from schools across the city this morning and continuing this afternoon, that lead us to believe there are some schools that are not going to be ready for children to walk into them on Wednesday morning," MTEA President Amy Mizialko said.

Mizialko wouldn't say which schools were having issues, but said some classrooms didn't have air filters and there's mix messaging about distancing at schools.

The association is also concerned about new COVID-19 variants, specifically the UK variant.

"The risk for children and their families and staff is greater with this variant, as well as with the rising positive rates," Mizialko said.

The positive rate in Milwaukee County is nearly 6% and health officials say they're seeing a rise in cases, especially in the under 18 age group.

In a press conference on Monday, MPS Superintendent Ketih Posley said that "we will be 100% ready to move forward on Wednesday for our young people."

"In our schools, students and staff will find Plexiglas barriers in classrooms, air purifiers, hand sanitizers, all PPE that is needed to help keep staff and students healthy," Posley said.

He said just over 30,000 of about roughly 70,000 students are expected for in-person learning with kindergarten through third graders returning on April 14, fourth through eighth graders returning on April 19 and high school seniors and students in need of support heading back on April 26.

MTEA has been raising concerns about the return to in-person learning for a while. On Friday, the association called for a special meeting of the school board and renewed that call once again on Monday.

They're hoping the board can more clearly outline the reopening plan and explain how they plan to keep students and staff safe.

MTEA did not say what its plan is if their concerns are not addressed.

As of Monday, the school board has scheduled a work session meeting for Thursday, April 15 at 5:30pm.

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