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MKE school officials work toward Health Department approval for in-person classes

Posted at 6:11 PM, Jul 22, 2020

MILWAUKEE — Schools in Milwaukee are already working on getting health department approval to resume in-person classes.

On Tuesday, the city’s health commissioner said schools would need to submit plans to re-open.

School officials spent months considering everything that may be needed to resume classes this fall, from face masks to contingency plans to spacing out students.

The city’s soon-to-be-released Phase 4.1 allows for schools to reopen so long as the city signs off on it first.

"Our biggest concern right now is making sure that our plan is fully developed in compliance with what they're looking for so that we can get it submitted and approved. Our fall semester starts August 24 so it doesn't give us a lot of time to adjust and react," said Janice Falkenberg, Vice President, and General Counsel at Milwaukee Area Technical College.

The health department still has to release its procedure for reopening, considering state and CDC guidelines.

But the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design (MIAD) isn’t waiting. The school plans to submit a broad proposal this week.

"My concerns are with our students, in particular, some of whom they have to make relocation plans or have housing issues to work with in the area, have financial issues to work with. So we want to give them a definitive answer as soon as possible," said Jeff Morin, President of MIAD.

Monica Van Aken, Head of School at Milwaukee Montessori School, supports the approach to safely bring back in-person classes. However, she says time is of the essence given the fact their first day is August 24.

"How long will it take the health department to read the documents that we're sending to them and then get back to us to say, okay, you're ready to open," Van Aken asked.

Van Aken also wondered about the small staff at the Health Department handling proposals from several schools, since the Jeanette Kowalik, the Commissioner of Health, noted their small staff.

A spokesperson for the health department says expect details on the modified Phase 4.1 plan within a week or so.

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