(The Center Square) – Milwaukee public school students missed the entire first half of the school year, and that turned out to be deadly for some.
Milwaukee County’s medical examiner said her office handled 16 homicides involving high school aged children from September until mid-December. All of the victims were shot.
“We have seen a dramatic increase in the number of school-aged kids who have been victims of homicide this year,” Sara Schreiber with the medical examiner’s office told Milwaukee’s Fox affiliate.
Both the city of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County will set homicide records in 2020. The year is not yet over, and both governments say their death toll is nearly 200.
Community activists in Milwaukee say had the 16 young people been in school, they may still be alive.
Activist Tracey Dent said the coronavirus has more young people at home, and some of them are unsupervised.
“The first thing that comes to mind is the COVID,” Dent said. “The shutdowns of the schools, the lack of resources.”
Sen. Dale Kooyegna, R-Brookfield, said each one of the 16 deaths is a tragedy. He also said no one can overlook that kids in Milwaukee haven’t been in school for months, and that decision is exposing them to just as many risks as the coronavirus.
“Unfortunately, it’s just the latest evidence we have that keeping in-person education closed down and kids out of classrooms has been horribly counterproductive. The science is becoming pretty clear that all-virtual has failed many students, especially the students who were most disadvantaged to begin with,” Kooyenga told The Center Square.
Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services tracks coronavirus deaths by age group. DHS reports that just one person under 19 has died from the coronavirus since March.
Kooyenga said lawmakers and local school leaders need to consider the real threat as they plan to welcome students back to class after the holidays.
“Policymakers need to realize that public health and public safety are intertwined. Both are important to strong, healthy communities. It’s time for schools to take Dr. Fauci’s advice, follow the science, and open up to in-person learning again,” Kooyenga added.