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MPS students mark day 1 of return to virtual learning amid COVID-19 spike

Posted at 5:53 PM, Jan 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-04 18:53:20-05

MILWAUKEE — Max Kiekhofer, his twin sister Izzie, and their pal Jacob are once again studying from home.

It's not what they had hoped for to end their senior year of high school at Ronald Reagan.

"I mean, yeah, I saw it coming just because, in the last week of school [before winter break] we all saw the cases rising," said Max.

The three are in the third floor of the Kiekhofer's east side 118-year-old home. It looks more like a rumpus room for teens than a classroom, and, well, that's what it was supposed to be. But now, it's dual purpose because of the pandemic.

"Honestly, it was really scary," said Max about returning to virtual learning. "I remember last year being virtual, that was alarming."

Alarming, especially for seniors, who have little time left to spend in class with their peers.

"I know I prefer being in person a lot more. Most of my friends prefer in-person, because there's an experience with teachers you can't get when you're virtual," said Max.

Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) has said it hopes the shift to virtual only lasts one week, with a shift back to in-person on Jan. 10.

But a return will depend on the level of staff and overall health risks for both students and teachers.

According to the MPS school board, just under 17 percent of teachers who tested on Saturday were found positive, a big decision to return to a remote classroom.

"It's been a challenge [virtual learning], but they're coming through okay," said Neil Kiekhofer, Max's father. "But they're also at the last of how long they can do this. It's getting towards pure exhaustion."

Though Max, it seems, has plenty of energy to spare. In addition to his studies, he's on Ronald Reagan's Superintendent's Supervisory Council with a group of other students.

"So we're trying to put together a letter right now to tell them, like please, respect what the teachers want, in order for their health," said Max. "But, also, this is why being in person is so beneficial to us, in case they need that extra push."

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