MILWAUKEE — If your student goes to a Milwaukee Public School, stocking up on number two pencils and getting a new backpack doesn't seem nearly as important as charging your Chromebook and testing your internet access.
The district is starting class online and dozens of schools started this week. If you don't have what you need for virtual learning, now is the time to speak up.
"We are at a moment in time where there should be no shame, no embarrassment," said Wendell Willis, Executive Director of Milwaukee Public Schools Foundation. It's a nonprofit that provides resources to students in the district.
"We're in a pandemic. This is kind of like ground zero. Let's make sure no one is left behind," said Willis.
Willis said the foundation has become essential during the pandemic and that now more than ever the district needs more partners to help with back to school supplies considering there are 158 schools to take care of.
"You just have to do the best that you can do," said MPS mom Anshanela Stokes.
The single mom has five children and three go to Milwaukee Public Schools, including Samuel Clemens.
"The school is just very family-oriented. Garry Lawson, the principal, he does a very good job. It was really a blessing," Stokes said.
She received three Chromebooks, three hot-spots, and a $100 gift card to help her children.
"Every parent that picked up the gift card if it was used for gas, for supplies if it was for food, $100 was needed in the household," Stokes said.
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"It helped a great big deal because we don't have internet access. We kind of use the internet over our phones. The signal isn't strong enough to power the tablets," Stokes explained.
As of right now, there aren't distribution sites for school supplies. Willis said guardians who still need them need to pick up the phone.
"The simplest, easiest thing to do is to always call your school," Willis said.
He said new parents can call the district with other questions and he encourages every guardian to sign up for text alerts to stay connected.
"We just have to learn to tap into those resources and it's okay, you don't have to be embarrassed because everybody needs help," Stokes said.
New parents in the district can call the Central Services phone line with questions at (414) 475-8393.
Click here so you can sign up to receive text messages from the district and stay informed.
If you are interested in becoming a partner and assisting the district with supplies, you can visit www.mpsfdn.org.
TMJ4 News' partner, the Milwaukee Business Journal, is working with 88 Nine and Educators Credit Union on its No Empty Backpacks campaign. If you are interested in donating school supplies, you can click here.