MILWAUKEE — Roughly 45,000 students across more than 100 Milwaukee Public Schools were welcomed back today.
September 2nd is the first day of school for students who attend schools operating under the traditional start calendar.
Red carpet events were held at several schools to welcome back students.
"I am nervous, I'm not going to lie," said Elizabeth Oyola. She is a mother who admits there are still nerves as COVID-19 continues to spread. "It's been a long time since they have been back."
Her students attend Rogers Street Academy. Students there were welcomed back by high-profile guests, including Governor Tony Evers, Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes, State Superintendent Jill Underly, Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, Milwaukee County Sheriff Earnell Lucas, Acting Milwaukee Police Chief Jeff Norman, MPS Board President Bob Peterson, MPS Superintendent Dr. Keith Posley and Milwaukee Teachers' Education Association President Amy Mizialko.
"Without a doubt, this year is the most important year that we've had this event," said Mayor Tom Barrett during a press conference."
He said it's been a top priority of his and others to get students back into schools for in-person learning. He thanked state leaders for working with his administration to get vaccines to those eligible.
"Now the challenge is to make sure that all the teachers, staff, and students who are eligible do get vaccinated because the fact of the matter is pandemic is still raging..." he said.
Along with that challenge comes a sense of relief.
I am so excited for full day five days per week of in-person learning for all students," said Superintendent Posely.
He said the district will continue to enforce a mask mandate, social distancing, and other mitigation efforts for the time being.
That's a step that MTEA president Amy Mizialko agrees is important.
"We must not fail to do what it takes to make sure that every student and every MPS staff member is safe," said Mizialko.
Principal Ramon Cruz hosted the event at his school. He hopes today's celebration reignites a thrill for learning.
"We want them to be really excited about learning and coming back to school," said Cruz.
At the event, there was excitement not only to learn but to reconnect.
"They missed their friends, so they wanted to be at school and wanted to be around their friends so bad," said Oloya about her children.