MPS discusses fall back-to-school plans at special board meeting

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Posted at 10:56 PM, Jun 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-02 15:58:47-04

MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee Public Schools administrators presented a plan for fall return during a board meeting Tuesday night.

The district recommends students and staff return in-person five days per week. There is a standalone virtual school option under the plan. Masks will be required inside schools and on the bus.

Under the plan, the school will move to a flexible schedule if three or more percent of the population tests positive for COVID-19.

The school board voted to approve what administrators prepared so far and charged them with further planning, including nine additions. Some include banning concurrent teaching and allowing full participation in sports and extra-curriculars and following CDC guidelines provided they may change. The board also wants administrators to meet with union leaders, community groups, and students for its plan.

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During the public comment session, teachers and school community leaders said they wanted the administration to include more planning for mental health and racial equity.

"Students and staff have dealt with a pandemic, racial justice reckoning, and now an increase in violence and reckless driving in our community," said chair of the Black Educators Caucus MKE, Angela Harris.

"If we fail to address the issues that existed prior to the pandemic, we cannot claim to be on our way anywhere but backwards," MPS teacher Raven Chappelle said.

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Board members then brought up their questions. Several of them expressed concerns about enrollment and how the district will improve communication. The board included a provision to hire a public relations firm to help with back-to-school messaging in its motion.

"Do we have enough people out there really to be able to reach our parents?" MPS board member Harry Leonard said. "Because I believe we are just not reaching them."

"The virus has not allowed us to knock on doors to say, 'where is Keith Posley, we need you at school,'" MPS Superintendent Dr. Keith Posley said. "Now that things are opening up, we will be able to do that."

Posley said there are typically about 7,000 students who enroll in summer school, and this summer he said he is expecting around 23,000.

MPS does not have COVID-19 vaccination records for its students or staff, and Posley said he would have to check with the city attorney's office if that's possible.

The board is scheduled to discuss these plans again on June 24.

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