Updated Saturday at 8:30 p.m. CT
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers is ordering all public and private K-12 schools across the state to close by March 18 as a precaution to contain the spread of the new coronavirus. State health officials have confirmed 27 cases of the virus in Wisconsin.
The city of Milwaukee's second presumptive coronavirus case is a Milwaukee Public Schools employee who works at Hopkins-Lloyd Community School, school district and health department officials announced Saturday night. "Close contacts" of the person will be quarantined for 14 days and monitored for symptoms.
In a press conference Saturday evening, MPS Superintendent Keith Posley and Milwaukee Health Commissioner Jeanette Kowalik declined to say whether the employee is a teacher. Kowalik said the person is thought to have contracted the virus while traveling in the U.S. and is now under "medical supervision."
MPS schools will be closed on Monday. MPS, along with Racine Unified and Kenosha Unified school districts, announced closures shortly after Gov. Evers' order to shutter all K-12 schools Friday. Racine and Kenosha hope to reopen April 6. MPS plans to reopen April 14 due to a previously scheduled spring break April 6-13.
Prior to the governor's order, many schools had already notified families of closures, including many in the Milwaukee suburbs. Some of those schools will attempt to move learning online, while others do not have that capability.
MPS is setting up 20 meal distribution sites at schools across the city, where it will also provide printed instructional materials for students. They will be open between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on weekdays, starting Monday. Hopkins-Lloyd is not one of the schools chosen for meal distribution. Posley said all the sites will undergo deep cleaning before families arrive Monday to pick up food.
As for what children will do while MPS schools are closed, Posley said at a press conference Friday that MPS is not able to implement online distance learning at this point.
"We're reviewing and working through that process and we're trying to get it up to go," Posley said. "We want to make sure, from an equity standpoint, that we're able to offer this to all of our young people, all 76,000 of our young people, and now with the digital divide, we're not able to do just that."
When asked whether teachers and other employees will be paid during the prolonged closure, Posley said "we're here all weekend long and there's nuances we're working with, and we will have that information and make that available to staff."
He said it is possible the district will need to extend its school year. Posley said his advice for students who don't want to fall behind in school is to "read as much as you can. Read, read, read."
Milwaukee Teachers Education Association President Amy Mizialko released a statement supportive of the decision to close schools.
"Shutting down every school is an important first step to keep students, workers and their families safe," Mizialko said. "We will continue to advocate that MPS and state officials ensure students in need have access to meals and that public education workers, especially hourly wage earners, are not harmed economically by school closures."
Here are some of the closure plans announced by southeast Wisconsin school districts on Friday:
The School District of Brown Deer is closing schools starting March 16 and will tentatively resume classes on April 13.
The School District of Cudahy is closing schools starting March 16. The Cudahy Health Department is recommending the closure remain in effect until April 10. They will tentatively resume classes April 14.
The Cedarburg School District is closing schools starting March 16 and will tentatively resume classes on April 13.
Elmbrook Schools are closing for at least one week, from March 16-20. Spring break is scheduled for the week of March 23 and a decision will be made later about whether to return to classrooms after the break.
The district was one of the first to announce closures, and Elmbrook Schools Chief Strategy Officer Chris Thompson told WUWM that is was a difficult decision.
“We felt like, as we assess the situation, that we needed to act,” Thompson said. “The first lens that we placed on this is how do we keep children safe in an environment that we might not be able to control?”
Thompson says meals will be available for students who qualify for free and reduced-price lunch. The district is setting up two sites where families can pick up food, and school leaders are working with their transportation contractor to set up meal delivery to those who can’t pick up food.
Franklin Public Schools will close March 16 and plan to reopen March 30.
The Fox Point-Bayside School District is closing schools starting March 16 and will tentatively resume classes on April 13.
The Germantown School District is closing schools starting March 16 and will tentatively resume classes on April 13.
The Glendale-River Hills School District is closing schools starting March 16 and will tentatively resume classes on April 13.
The Grafton School District is closing schools starting March 16 and will tentatively resume classes on April 13.
The Greendale School District will be closed March 16-April 3. The district will “re-evaluate the need for continuing closing and communicate to families on or before April 1.” Spring break is April 6-10. Grades 6-12 will use digital learning beginning March 18 and elementary school leaders are meeting Monday to discuss how to proceed. The district will have lunch available at College Park Elementary from 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. weekdays.
The Kenosha Unified School District will close March 16 and plans to reopen April 6.
The Kettle Moraine School District will cancel classes starting March 16 and begin online teaching March 17. No end date is given but they will provide updates throughout spring break, March 23-27. Families receiving free And reduced Lunch may pick up free lunch at Kettle Moraine High School March 16-20 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Maple Dale-Indian Hill
The Maple Dale-Indian Hill School District is closing schools starting March 16 and will tentatively resume classes on April 13.
The School District of Menomonee Falls will close March 16 and move to alternative learning. Spring break will continue as planned March 23-27.
The Mequon-Thiensville School District is closing schools starting March 16 and will tentatively resume classes on April 13.
Milwaukee Public Schools will close March 16 and plans to reopen April 14.
Muskego-Norway Schools will close school facilities from March 16-27. By March 16, students will receive information about alternative instruction.
New Berlin School District will close schools for two weeks, beginning March 16. School will tentatively resume March 30. On March 16, teaching staff will report to work to prepare for remote lesson delivery, which will likely begin March 23. The district will be distributing to-go lunches for students who receive free and reduced-price lunch at the Eisenhower cafeteria from 9:30-10:30 a.m. on weekdays.
Nicolet Union High School is closing March 16 and will tentatively resume classes on April 13. Students will be expected to "attend" school virtually on normal calendared school days.
The Northern Ozaukee School District is closing schools starting March 16 and will tentatively resume classes on April 13. There will be continued learning opportunities for all students 4K-12 through digital instruction or other educational materials.
The Oak Creek-Franklin Joint School District will close the week of March 16. Spring break will continue as planned the week of March 23.
The Pewaukee School District will close March 16-27. Beginning March 17, the school district will implement remote learning. Remote lesson plans will be announced Monday, and they will be provided technology for any family that lacks the proper tools.
The Port Washington-Saukville School District is closing schools starting March 16 and will tentatively resume classes on April 13.
The Racine Unifed School District will close March 16 and plans to reopen April 6.
The St. Francis School District will be closed March 14-April 13. Before/after school care will be provided on March 13 as scheduled.
The Shorewood School District is closing schools starting March 16 and will tentatively resume classes on April 13.
Shorewood School District spokeswoman Katelin Watson told WUWM: “We don’t believe we can meet the Virtual Learning requirements set forth by the DPI for a variety reasons. Therefore, we will not be able to provide online instruction during our extended school closure. We are working to identify resources that parents can use with their students at home.”
The South Milwaukee School District will close from March 14 to April 12.
The School District of Waukesha will close schools from March 16-20. Students should expect virtual learning from home to occur starting on March 18 and continue through March 20. Spring break is the week of March 23 and the district will announce future plans later.
The Wauwatosa School District is moving to online learning March 17-20. All after-school activities, starting March 16, will be canceled for two weeks.
The Whitefish Bay School District is closing all district buildings March 14, and they will tentatively resume school on April 13.
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