MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee Public Schools are providing resources and materials for families of students after Governor Tony Evers ordered the closure of all K-12 schools in the state of Wisconsin due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. In response, MPS is closing all schools effective Monday, March 16th through Monday, April 13.
"I recognize the impact this closure will have on our school community, and know it may burden some of our students, families, and staff who rely on our schools," said MPS Superintendent Dr. Keith Posley in a letter to parents.
The school district will provide free meals to students beginning Monday, March 16 between 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Monday-Friday.
Each distribution location will provide resources and materials to students in hard copy and online format. The full list of locations is below:
"This decision [to close] has been made in the best interest of our students and staff to ensure the safety and well-being of all in our school communities. The districts will continue working closely with health officials and one another to make informed decisions and update our communities as expeditiously as possible," a shared statement from Milwaukee, Kenosha, and Racine school districts read.
Some families expressed concerns over childcare as a result of the unplanned break from school.
"Do I have the time?" Lisa Perkins, mother of two MPS students said. "Taking time off from work can lead to less [for] monthly bills. What am I going to do with my kids? I still have to work. A lot of people rely on school as that form of daycare per se."
MPS says they do not have a plan in place to help parents with childcare because all of the schools will be closed.
Perkins says she has the luxury of working from home, so she won't be as hampered by her kids being home. However, she also works as a Fiserv Forum employee to help supplement her income. So she also knows she'll be struggling to stay afloat because of Coronavirus.
"Where does the sacrifice come in at?" Perkins said. "Am I going to have to worry about paying my rent, paying my mortgage, paying my car notes? There is a trickle down effect that comes with this. There is a huge concern."
MPS Adminstrators will be at their headquarters all weekend to make sure Monday's plan goes smoothly.
"A lot of sleepless nights," Posley said. "Something we have been totally immersed with in the last month, working to come up with a pandemic plan. All we can think of is how to meet the needs of young people, even if school is out. How do we make sure that we provide a safety net for young people. We have done just that."
Posley didn't say whether service employees will be compensated during the off time.
MPS says there are strategies in place to make sure every single student can take advantage of this plan, regardless of background. Posley says, he's well aware of the digital divide some families face.
"With the instructional material we pass out, you don't have to have the internet to do that," Posley said.
Posley says this closure could result in the final day of school being pushed back. However, they're focused on making sure students graduate on time.
"It's something we're working at and looking at for some time now," Posley said. "One of our priorities for high school students, especially 12th grade, to make sure they have all of the credits to become a graduate of Milwaukee Public Schools."
Gov. Evers decision came down Friday afternoon and Posley says that's the reason they're closing.
"This is a decision that was made when we got the directive today," Posley said. "It is something that was all taken into consideration. Truly, we've been looking at a lot of different factors, talking to a lot of agencies, looking at numbers coming in around Coronavirus and making sure."
Milwaukee will reopen on Tuesday, April 14 due to a previously-scheduled spring break.