Morse Middle School is first MPS building closed due to COVID-19 this fall

September 16, 2021

Morse Middle School was closed on Wednesday, September 8, 2021, for 10 days, while teachers and students will continue to meet virtually, due to a high level of COVID-19 cases at the school.

Families were notified the afternoon of September 8 about the closure after at least three percent of the school population had tested positive in the last two weeks. A spokesman for Milwaukee Public Schools would not say how many students and staff had tested positive.

At least 20 students and staff have reported positive results in the past seven days, according to the district dashboard. About 500 students were enrolled in the school as of last school year, according to state data.

Morse students returned to school Aug. 16. The school reported zero cases the first week, five cases the second week, and 10 cases the next week.

MPS policy is to move schools to virtual learning when three percent of the school population tests positive. The district’s standards are more lenient than last year, when a single case would close a classroom and three cases would close a school.

During the closure, staff are being asked to work in the building, in individual rooms, and are expected to reach out to their students about virtual learning. All students are being provided a Chromebook, according to a MPS press release.

COVID-19 cases for Milwaukee children started climbing in late June, with the more virulent delta variant taking hold. In late August, they hit levels not seen since December.

Daily COVID-19 case counts have been rising for the district since school resumed. As of Wednesday night, 208 students and staff had reported testing positive in the past seven days.

Responding to the rapid spread, MPS administrators have proposed a vaccine mandate for all staff, with some exemptions for religious and medical reasons, as well as incentives for students. The school board considered the proposal on September 9, 2021.

School board members and the president of the Milwaukee Teachers Education Association have also called on city officials to reinstate a mask mandate for all buildings open to the public.