By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Oct 26, 2020 at 10:31 AM

The Milwaukee Public Schools board has called a special meting for Tuesday, Oct. 27 at 5:30 p.m. to discuss action on the three-phase MPS School Reopening Plan for the 2020-2021.

The meeting will be held virtually, as all MPS buildings remain closed to the public.

All MPS students are currently learning from home in the first phase of a three-phase opening plan the district implemented at the beginning of the school year.

Phase 2 calls for a blend of at-home and in-school instruction and Phase 3 will mark a full return to school building. No date was set for the start of Phase 2, which requires reaching a number of community health benchmarks.

During Phase 2, students would be assigned to one of two cohorts that would attend school in-person two days and work from home three, or to a third cohort that would continue to work entirely virtually.

The two hybrid cohorts would attend on different days to help facilitate physical distancing and enhanced cleaning and disinfecting. Masks would be required of everyone in school buildings during the in-school days.

No students will be required to attend in-person this school year if they prefer to continue working virtually.

MPS administration has updated its Roadmap to Readiness report, which outlines protocols and rules for returning to school, without stating a potential return date, though word on the street is that the administration may suggest moving to Phase 2 at the end of winter break in January, pending sufficient improvement in the community spread of COVID-19.

According to the updated report:

"The Milwaukee Health Department (MHD) monitors coronavirus transmission within the city and has developed key indicators to help assess general community transmission of the virus.

"Milwaukee Public Schools has been working with the MHD to determine the criteria that should be met in order to move into Phase 2. While there has been an increase in COVID-19 cases in the city of Milwaukee and in the state of Wisconsin, the MHD has not noted any significant increased risk of transmission within the city’s schools that have implemented and follow a proper mitigation plan.

"MPS has put in place appropriate measures to help reduce the spread of coronavirus, including a face mask requirement, physical distancing throughout the school and on school buses, enhanced cleaning, and other safety measures. Milwaukee Public Schools is confident that it has a solid mitigation plan to allow for moving to Phase 2, but MPS will also use key indicators to support the decision to move to Phase 2. The district will use the Testing indicator, which measures the percentage of positive cases in the city over a five-day period, and the Cases indicator, which measures the trend in the positivity rate in the city over a 14-day period.

"Milwaukee Public Schools plans to discuss a particular start date for Phase 2 with the Milwaukee Board of School Directors. If a particular date is set, the decision to move to Phase 2 will be based on both the Testing indicator and Cases indicator not being in the red category a month before the start date, and both indicators being out of the red category two weeks prior to the start date. This should allow MPS to communicate the decision to move to Phase 2 to families and staff in advance to allow them to make adequate preparations for beginning Phase 2."

It is expected – but not certain – that MPS administration will discuss the particular start date for Phase 2 at Tuesday's meeting.

If the board agrees with the proposed date, MPS would still likely require the approval of the City of Milwaukee, which has charged the Milwaukee Health Department with considering and approving the health plans required for school reopenings.

The community will be allowed to offer testimony live during Tuesday's meeting but you must register by 3 p.m. on the day of the meeting.

To register to participate by dial-in, call (414) 475-8200 and follow the instructions. You will be given a special code. To register to participate via email, send an email request to https://mps.milwaukee.k12.wi.us/en/District/About-MPS/School-Board/Boardcast.htm.

You may also submit written comments by mail, to 5225 W. Vliet St., Milwaukee, 53208; by email, to governance@milwaukee.k12.wi.us; or by fax, to (414) 475-8071. Written comments received before 3 p.m. on Tuesday will be forwarded to the board for its consideration.

You can listen to the meeting live at Radio Milwaukee, 88.9 FM, watch it on Time-Warner/Spectrum Channel 13 or stream it at https://mps.milwaukee.k12.wi.us/en/District/About-MPS/School-Board/Boardcast.htm.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in an episode of TV's "Party of Five," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.