The teachers union for Milwaukee Public School is voicing their concerns about how the district has implemented their COVID testing plan for students since in-person learning resumed in April.
Milwaukee Teachers Education Association President Amy Mizialko says the data regarding which students have gotten tested has not met the standards MPS’ Board of Directors approved in March.
“Only 10-percent of students in 44 (elementary) schools have been tested,” says Mizialko. “20-percent of students in each of the 108 elementary schools should have been tested by now. And every single one of the 137 schools should have been tested once by now.”
Mizialko adds the pooled surveillance testing program that is designed to determine which classrooms and buildings need to switch back to virtual learning is not being followed by district administration.
“If administration has deviated from the plan that the board passed on March 23 this drastically, its either because we don’t have enough staff as this union warned,” says Mizialko, “or because of conscious decisions on the part of administration to avoid closures when there are positive cases. If that’s the case, where will we be next week, or the week after that?”
MTEA is asking the Board of Directors to hold a meeting as soon as possible to address this situation and ensure COVID safety standards are being met the rest of this school year. They also want the district to work on their COVID plan for the next school year, which will have students back in class come August.
WATCH THE PRESS CONFERENCE BELOW:
Following the press conference, MPS Superintendent Dr. Keith Posley addressed the situation to reporters. He admits that there has been a slow rollout for pool COVID testing due to working with an outside contractors, but the results have been encouraging.
“Of the 66 schools that we have tested, 93.9-percent of those pool tests has come back negative,” says Posley.
MPS District 2 Board Member Erika Seimsen released the following statement:
Upon hearing from some of our community partners about COVID-19 testing results and, specifically, pool testing not being reported, I believe that families, staff, and the Milwaukee community have the right to understand how such testing occurs within Milwaukee Public Schools. When pool testing is conducted and in instances where there appears to be exposure to COVID-19, the classroom is closed and students return to virtual learning as a precaution. If, during that closure, it is determined that an individual has a positive COVID-19 test, that occurrence must be factored into the criteria used for closing the entire school.
School communities have a right to know when pool testing occurs in their schools, and if there were positive results. I believe that this information must be made public, not only to ensure full transparency and clarity on testing procedures, but to promote the safety of students, staff, and the entire Milwaukee community.
For more information, call the Office of Board Governance at (414) 475-8284.