Graham Kilmer

Jill Biden Visits Marvin Pratt Elementary

First Lady offers support for in-person schooling and vaccine mandates in discussion at north-side school.

By - Sep 15th, 2021 03:40 pm
First Lady Dr. Jill Biden at Marvin Pratt Elementary. Photo taken September 15, 2021 by Graham Kilmer.

First Lady Dr. Jill Biden at Marvin Pratt Elementary. Photo by Graham Kilmer.

The First Lady of the United States, Dr. Jill Biden, visited Milwaukee and Marvin Pratt Elementary school Wednesday to discuss in-person schooling with a group of educators and parents and stump for the American Rescue Plan.

The first lady landed in Milwaukee around 10 a.m. Wednesday morning and was greeted by Mayor Tom Barrett and his wife Kris on the tarmac. Biden then made her way to the elementary school on the city’s north side, which is named for Milwaukee’s first Black mayor.

First Lady Dr. Jill Biden at Marvin Pratt Elementary. Photo taken September 15, 2021 by Graham Kilmer.

First Lady Dr. Jill Biden at Marvin Pratt Elementary. Photo by Graham Kilmer.

In the school’s library, Biden made a brief statement to the assembled media and highlighted the importance of in-person learning. 

The first lady is also an educator and she noted that in-person learning is important to childhood development. It’s where they make friends, she noted, where they learn how to settle disagreements and try out for athletics.

“I’ve seen that classrooms are so much larger than places where our children learn math and reading,” she said.

Several parents of children attending Pratt participated in a discussion with Biden. They talked about the stress of the past year, dealing with virtual learning and bored kids, adjusting work schedules and lives to make up for lost childcare.

Carol Johnson said she enjoyed seeing how happy it made her great-grandson when he was able to go back to school and be with other kids, adding “I was as excited as he was, to come back, I must admit.”

Other parents said they were happy with the masking and social distancing efforts in Milwaukee Public Schools. One mother said she was looking forward to when her child would be eligible for the vaccine.

“We’re hoping to get a vaccine for kids under 12,” Biden said.

Mary Wall, a health policy advisor traveling with the first lady, said the president had committed to providing “every last element of support that the FDA needs to thoroughly and scientifically review the vaccine.”

“We do feel really confident, with these measures in place, measures like what’s happening here at Marvin Pratt, we can stay in school safely,” Wall said.

The first lady, referencing the president’s proposed vaccine mandate for all private companies with 100 employees or more, said “My husband Joe is committed to being a partner to all of you, and that’s why he released the bold plan last week to make sure all of our schools can remain safe and open, by helping to ensure that the adults and the students who surround our children are vaccinated.”

She also talked up the American Rescue Plan Act, the stimulus bill signed into law by President Biden in March, saying it “increases access to broadband and tech devices, creates additional learning opportunities outside of the classroom and provides more mental health support.”

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