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State’s largest teachers unions call on Evers to require virtual start to school year

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Updated: 6:19 p.m. on July 20, 2020

MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) – In a letter sent to Governor Tony Evers, State Superintendent Carolyn Stanford Taylor and Department of Health Services Secretary-designee Andrea Palm, teachers unions from the state’s largest districts called on the administration to require a virtual start to the school year.

The letter was signed by the heads of teachers unions from Milwaukee, Madison, Racine, Kenosha and Green Bay cited the recent surge in COVID-19 cases, the pandemic’s disproportionate effect on Black and Latino students and inadequate resources as a cause of concern for attempting to hold in-person classes in the fall.

“There’s nothing more that educators want than to be back in classrooms with our kids in the fall,” Racine Educators United President Angelina Cruz told CBS 58 in an interview. “But when we’re looking at numbers that continue to climb, but are also worse than when we closed in March, it’s really hard for me to understand where people’s heads are at in thinking that it’s a good idea to proceed in any iteration of face-to-face teaching.”

“Wisconsinites elected Tony Evers to get in the ring and fight for us,” Amy Mizialko, the president of the Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association said.

While some districts like Milwaukee and Madison have rolled out plans to begin the year online, the group of unions say a statewide approach is what will keep more people safe.

“It’s not as if there are barriers or walls between counties, people travel,” Mizialko added.

However, it’s unlikely such action will happen.

In a media briefing last week, Gov. Evers said he’s “optimistic” about schools reopening in the fall and that decisions are ultimately left up to districts.

“It’s going to look different in different parts of the state,” Evers said.

The Department of Public Instruction has already published its guidelines, but districts are not required to follow them.

CBS 58 reached out to the governor’s office and DPI but did not hear back for comment.

Educators hope state leaders consider their concerns as the academic year approaches.

“Nobody wants to be responsible for the death of child, nobody wants to be responsible for the death of a family member,” Cruz said. “That is really at the heart of everyone’s concerns right now.”

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Posted: 1:13 p.m. on July 20, 2020

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Teachers unions for Wisconsin's five largest school districts are asking Gov. Tony Evers and the state's top health and education officials to keep schools closed at the start of the year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The letter sent Monday was signed by union leaders for teachers in Milwaukee, Madison, Green Bay, Kenosha and Racine. It was sent to Evers, Department of Public Instruction Secretary Carolyn Stanford Taylor and Department of Health Services Secretary Andrea Palm.

The Milwaukee and Madison districts have already announced that they plan to start the school year with online instruction only and will reassess later. 

Read the letter below: 

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