Gov. Tony Evers, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Jill Underly visit MPS students on 1st day of school

NOW: Gov. Tony Evers, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Jill Underly visit MPS students on 1st day of school

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Gov. Tony Evers and State Superintendent Dr. Jill Underly visited two Milwaukee Public Schools Thursday morning, Sept. 2, to wish students good luck on a new school year.

More than 110 schools, about 45,000 students, started on the traditional schedule Thursday morning. About 40 schools started early on Aug. 16.

The pair made appearances at Rogers Street Academy and Milwaukee's French Immersion School.

"Every semester over the last 18 months has presented new challenges, and frankly, this semester won't be much different," Evers said. "I want to thank our kids for showing amazing flexibility and resilience. They're stronger than they are given credit for."

Underly told CBS 58 that it's exciting to see parents, students and teachers happy to be back in-person. 

"We're doing what we can to make sure that it's as normal as possible," Underly said. 

She said a priority is filling some of the gaps created by virtual learning.

"There are a lot of things that virtual instruction couldn't replace," Underly said. "We need to focus on relationships, and we need to focus on our kids' social emotional health, as well as, their learning."

Milwaukee School Board of Directors President Bob Peterson proposed a policy be written requiring all MPS staff to be vaccinated or submit to weekly COVID-19 testing. The board voted to send the idea back to administrators on Aug. 17. 

"If that's what they feel is one of their mitigation strategies, and that will keep their schools open, and their staff and students safe, then that's their call," Underly said about her thoughts on a vaccine mandate for staff.

There's a number of COVID-19 mitigation strategies in place in Milwaukee schools, including mask requirements. A number of other districts have had heated debates over masks. Underly said those districts are focusing on the wrong thing.

"We want our kids in school," Underly said. "If masks are the answer to that, why are we fighting over it?"

MPS is still feeling the effects of the nationwide bus shortage. Superintendent Dr. Keith Posley said their short by about 30 buses.

Underly told CBS 58 it's going to take a community effort to change that. 

"It's actually a very fun job," Underly said. "Doing what we can to recruit people to fill those roles, I mean, it takes all of us to be able to do that."

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