Milwaukee schools and universities that have been planning to offer face-to-face instruction this fall may need to shift gears after the city Health Department quietly enacted stricter guidelines for when in-person classes may resume.
While Milwaukee Public Schools has opted to start the school year online, Marquette University, UWM and many of the city's private and independent charter schools had been working under the assumption they could reopen with precautions, based on the city's Moving MKE Forward Safely plan posted on the health department's website.
An earlier version of that plan showed that schools and universities could reopen during Phase 4. But that document appears to have been updated on June 25 — the day before the city moved into Phase 4, where it stands now.
The latest version bars all schools and universities from opening until the city enters Phase 5 — which won't happen until the city meets several benchmarks, including seeing a downward trend in COVID-19's spread. Milwaukee's coronavirus cases — and the percentage of COVID-19 tests coming back positive — have been growing in recent weeks.
"Nobody saw this coming," said Jim Bender, president of School Choice Wisconsin. "Schools did not have any sort of consultative role in these changes. And they didn't get any communication from the health department that the changes were being made."