Milwaukee Public School Board votes to restart in-person learning Jan. 18

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The Milwaukee Public School Board voted 8-1 in favor of sending students back to in-person classes on Jan. 18 in a special meeting held Thursday night.

MPS went to all-virtual learning Monday due to rising Covid case numbers. Families originally heard it could be just for a week, but the administration then recommended kids stay home until Jan. 18. 

The meeting started later than expected around 7:30 p.m. Board members received the Covid numbers and discussed how those numbers could affect students and staff when they get back to the classroom.

MPS School Board President Bob Peterson said they received hundreds of letters from people passionate on both sides of the issue.

The Milwaukee Health Department took part in the meeting Thursday night, answering questions like -- would classrooms be safe right now? Can social distancing be possible with over 30 people in a classroom?

Dr. Heather Paradis said classrooms are safer because of universal masking, but transmission rates go up in lunchrooms where masks aren't used. 

The district is ordering 680-thousand KN95 masks for students and 1.3-million for staff. 

Board members also asked about cleaning, noting a shortage and saying teachers are even taking out their own trash.

MPS wants to hire an additional 59 workers to clean classrooms.

"We've been having job fairs, we've been out recruiting individuals and doing everything we can to pick up more people," said MPS Superintendent Dr. Keith Posley.

"I think all the board members know that in-person education, in-person learning is superior, and we're gonna do our best to get the kids back as soon as possible, as soon as it's safe," said Peterson.

Board members also voted to send a letter to Acting Mayor Cavalier Johnson and the Common Council urging them to reinstate the citywide mask mandate.

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