South Milwaukee District Makes Plans to Return to In-Person Learning

The South Milwaukee School Board on Monday voted to begin a return to in-person learning, starting with a “hybrid” approach for elementary students on Jan. 18 and middle and high school students a week later. Elementary students would fully return to school on Feb. 1, with middle and high students returning Feb. 8.

Learn more about their plans on the district website.

The decision came after student and parent rallies and protests earlier in the day.

I support the decision to return to school, as mayor, husband to a school board member, and father of two district students. I also support the people who made it, the path they took to get there, and the motivations behind their decisions.

It’s time to get kids back to school, safely, and many more are making this choice.

Yet districts across the county and state remain divided on this issue. It seems like no two are handling it in exactly the same way. Some districts have been fully open since September. Others have been fully virtual, and will seemingly remain so for some time. And then there is everyone in between, those who have mixed virtual and live schooling in recent months, often in very different ways.

That lack of a coordinated reponse to the virus is not unique to schools. Disagreements have marked every aspect of our response to COVID-19 since last spring.

Almost no part of the work to push back against the pandemic — from decisions on shutdowns and reopenings, to support for struggling families and busineses, to testing, to contract tracing, to adherence to safety measures like masking, to now vaccinations — has been consistent.

We have suffered because of it. Too many lives have been lost, as the pandemic has further divided an already divided nation and state and left local units of government, and their usually part-time elected officials, to fill this leadership vacuum and make the best of complex situations lacking clearly right or wrong answers.

Such is the situation the school board found itself in in recent weeks. Such is the situation we have all found ourselves in for the last 10 months.

You may not support the decisions made, and that is your right. Protest them, if you wish. But please draw the line at personally attacking the individuals making them.

I’d like to think we can at least agree on that, even in these times. Is that possible in 2021?

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