Vivant Edu

COVID cases in youths on rise, but Milwaukee school open with optimism

About 45,000 students returned to Milwaukee Public Schools Thursday to begin what Mayor Tom Barrett called the “most important year for education,” while COVID cases for Milwaukee youths hit levels not seen since December. 

Barrett joined Gov. Tony Evers, Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes and other figures in welcoming students at Rogers Street Academy, one of 110 MPS schools to open Thursday. They presented an optimistic, united front. 

“I am so excited to be back for full-day, five-days-a-week, in-person learning for all of our students,” Superintendent Keith Posley said. “This will be the best year ever.” 

The return to school comes as administrators are still working out key details of daily routines and logistics. The district is still short 30 bus drivers, Posley said Thursday, causing delays as routes are adjusted. A bus arrived at Rogers at 7:50, a half-hour after the opening bell.  

Prekindergarten-4 teacher Tita Torres goes over class rules Thursday with students on the first day of school at Rogers Street Academy, 2430 W. Rogers St., Milwaukee.

Administrators are also researching a possible vaccine mandate policy for staff, as well as incentives or rewards for vaccinated staff and students. They will present ideas at a special board meeting Sept. 9, which will include a public hearing. 

Nearly 30,000 students already returned to MPS schools Aug. 16. In the first week, 42 students and 14 staff reported testing positive for COVID-19. In the second week, 59 students and 38 staff reported testing positive.