First Lady Jill Biden holds education event at Milwaukee school

September 16, 2021

First Lady Jill Biden visited Milwaukee on Wednesday, September 15, 2021, for a visit to Marvin E. Pratt Elementary School.

She touched down at Mitchell International Airport shortly before 10:30 a.m.

Dr. Biden was greeted by Mayor Tom Barrett and his wife, who is a retired teacher.

Dr. Biden visited Marvin E. Pratt Elementary School to highlight the importance of helping keep students safe as they return to in-person learning.

She spoke to 10 teachers and parents for about 30 minutes. Participants wore face masks and were socially distanced.

“The school year brings a new mix of emotions,” Dr. Biden noted. “For parents it’s not having to hear ‘I’m bored’ over and over again.”

She spoke of the worries COVID-19 brings: “A simple cough can get your heart racing.”

“As a teacher for more than 30 years in fact, I just started my own semester this last week. And, as a mom. I’ve seen that the classrooms are just so much larger than places where children learn math and reading,” Dr. Biden said. “The American Rescue Plan increases access to broadband and tech devices, creates additional learning opportunities outside of the classroom, and provides more mental health support.”

Parents and teachers got a chance to share their pandemic learning experiences with the First Lady. Principal Tianna Evans said parents were being “adaptable and flexible” with coming back to in-person.

Dr. Biden asked several questions.

She asked one mom who talked about food assistance what programs she used and how they were helpful.

Dr. Biden asked another mom how she was taking care of herself during the pandemic.

When one parent said she hoped to get her kids vaccinated, Jill Biden said: “That’s what we’re hoping for,” adding: “Pretty soon we’re hoping to get a vaccine for kids under 12.”

Mary Wall, Senior Policy Adviser, White House COVID-19 Response Team, who was traveling with the First Lady and part of the round table, said: “We are still hoping for later this year, you don’t have a totally fun timeline but we’re hoping for later this year.”

Another parent noted “There hasn’t been a debate about the masking situation in this district. I couldn’t send my kid to school without a mask.”

“There hasn’t,” Dr. Biden asked. “That probably just takes that stress off of you as well,” praising them for being unified.

In her closing remarks she thanked them for their stories: “I’ll take them back to the White House with me and when I see my husband and we’re having dinner I’ll say, ‘This is what I heard’,” she said. “He will hear your stories.”

Dr. Biden did not take questions from the media.

Milwaukee Public Schools enacted a district-wide COVID-19 vaccine mandate last week for all employees.

One school was already forced to go all-virtual after a COVID-19 outbreak.

Pratt Elementary School serves about 300 students in kindergarten through fifth grades in Milwaukee’s Lincoln Park neighborhood.

The First Lady then travel to Des Moines for an event at a community college with Rep. Cindy Axne to highlight how the Biden Administration is supporting families through the American Rescue Plan and its Build Back Better agenda.

The First Lady visited Waukesha County last September for a small, socially distanced event on the importance of health care.