Returning Preference AppThere will be a second opportunity to change your preference to in-person learning April 5 – April 12th. If you choose to move to in person learning during this second Returning Preference app period, in-person learning for your student would begin Tuesday, May 4th. The three week time period between the closing of the Second Returning Preference App and the start date is due to additional resource planning for staffing, transportation and space due to our COVID-19 mitigation strategies. You can decide to move your child from in-person to virtual learning at any time.
March 8th - Virtual asynchronous days, previously held on Wednesdays, will move to Mondays for all K-12 students (whether receiving instruction virtually or in-person) beginning.
March 9th - Kindergarten returns to in person learning.
March 16th - Grades 1-2 returns to in person learning.
March 23rd - 4K returns to in person learning.
Thank you for your continued collaboration, patience and support over the past year as we have navigated the COVID-19 global health pandemic. We realize how challenging it has been to move to an all-virtual instructional model, as we have worked to ensure the health and safety of our students, staff and families.
We will begin a phased return to in-person instruction, starting with Kindergarten students, March 9th. Additional grade levels will be transitioned back to in-person on a weekly basis, while virtual learning will remain an option for all students who wish to continue learning from home. The current tentative schedule for returning grade levels includes: Kindergarten (March 9th); Grades 1-2 (March 16th); 4K (March 23rd). As we continue to monitor COVID-19 metrics and receive guidance from local public health experts, we will later determine when other grade levels can transition safely to an in-person learning model.
In preparation for all grades eventual return to in person learning, we will be transitioning Wednesday asynchronous learn to Mondays.
Returning 4K students will participate in instruction with in-person instruction occurring on two full days during the week. This change will only affect 4K students/classrooms in MMSD school sites. Community Early Care and Education Sites offering 4K classrooms will not have any change in their hours of instruction. Please note that, while we will try to honor family preferences, there is no guarantee that we can accommodate all requests.
Option 1: Face-to-Face Instruction for 2 Full Days/Week (in the classroom/MMSD school buildings only)
Students will attend for two full-days of instruction, on Tuesday/Wednesday or Thursday/Friday each week, starting and ending the same time as other grade levels. The actual days that a student will attend will be determined by the confirmed number of students returning for face-to-face instruction. Families will be notified when placement has been confirmed.
Option 2: Virtual Instruction for 2 Full Days/Week (student remains in the home and receives instruction)
Virtual instruction will be provided to students in their homes while the teacher is in the classroom with students who are attending face-to-face instruction. Students will be able to interact with their teacher and classmates virtually. Virtual small group and/or individual instruction will be established for more personalized virtual instruction (during regular school hours). Virtual blocks should be no longer than 30 minutes, but students may log on multiple times throughout the day to engage in activities going on in the classroom.
WHAT INSTRUCTION WILL LOOK LIKE
Returning 4K students will participate in instruction with in-person instruction occurring on two full days during the week. This change will only affect 4K students/classrooms in MMSD school sites.
Teachers will provide small group instruction as needed for all students. Teachers and students will maintain social distancing during these times.
Specialist areas are inclusive of their purposeful play choice time.
Virtual and in-person students may remain in the same class together with the same teacher. Teachers might teach them all at the same time. Small group work will be separate for virtual and in-person students.
Students Receiving Services
Students who have IEPs, language support, advanced learning needs, or other support may receive services in-person. Some adjustments will be made to maintain COVID safety. Contact your student’s teacher if you have specific questions about your student’s service needs.
Quiet Learning Time
During quiet learning time, a mat will be provided for students to lay down on in the classroom. Head and feet will be alternated to allow for 6 feet of distance between students. Masks will not be worn at this time. Students can look at books, color, and/or do other quiet activities or lay down and rest.
The report card schedule and grading will remain unchanged.
Research tells us to try to limit 4K students screen time to 60 minutes per day. 4K in person students should leave chromebooks at home. 4K virtual students can join their class at multiple times of the day to be included into the in person instruction. Virtual students will be doing asynchronous work at home that is not on the screen. This would be activities and lessons that students can be doing offline.
Students will store their backpacks and belongings with them at their seat or an assigned area. Students are expected to bring their own school supplies as there will be limited use of shared learning materials in the classroom. Check your school’s website for updated school supply lists.
What You Can Do at Home
We understand how difficult the decision might be to send your student back to school and how difficult it may be for them to re-adjust to school and the new routines. There are things you can do at home to help your student prepare and to help keep our school and community safe. They include:
Talk about what to expect
Students will do best when they know what to expect. Share what school will look like during this time. Remind them that these changes are helping to keep their friends, family, and teachers safe. Talk through different health scenarios such as “what happens if you get on the bus and you have to sneeze?” or “what happens if your friend wants to give you a hug or a classmate is standing very close to you?” Help them think about what to do and how to ask for help from an adult.
Help your students practice habits they will use at school. Practice proper hand washing with soap and water for 20 seconds when you come home, before and after eating, and after sneezing or coughing. Help them get used to wearing a mask and show them how to stretch it to cover their nose and chin. Practice social distancing with people you don’t live with.
Many students will struggle to adjust to the new routines with in-person school. Consider developing a visual schedule or writing out what each day will look like with your morning routine, school, and after school for your student ahead of time and using a calendar to show which days of the week will be in-person.
Ask your students how they are feeling about going back to school in-person. Some kids will be excited while others may be worried, fearful, or sad and need more support. Validate their feelings by telling them you understand and letting them know that their feelings are ok. Provide information to help ease their worries and reassure them that you and their teachers will be there to help.
Ask questions and seek support
Reach out to your school principal, teacher, social worker, or other staff members with any questions or concerns. Check your email, text messages, voicemail, and the school website regularly for any updates.
Start out at home
Try wearing the masks at home for a while together and gradually build up the time to help your children get used to wearing one. Practice putting on, wearing and taking off the masks together.
Safety in our Buildings
We've made several adjustments in preparation for students and staff to return to buildings, whether that be soon or next year. Some of those are outlined below:
In November our school board approved a proposal for nearly $300,000 in medical-grade filters in all our buildings' air handling systems. In addition, we have adjusted our HVAC settings so that we are getting as much fresh air into buildings as possible. In winter, this means we need to burn a bit more natural gas to keep buildings warm, but we are doing everything we can to bring as much fresh air in.
Every 10 minutes, the entire volume of each classroom's air is circulated and filtered. We have adjusted the system to allow for even more fresh air to enter the system by flushing the air two hours prior to 6:00 a.m. and for 2 hours again at the end of each day.
Stagnant water can be a concern when a building's water systems are not in use, so we have followed procedures for ensuring sure our water is safe. Based on recommendations from the CDC, Public Health Madison & Dane County, and ESPRI (Environmental Science, Policy, and Research Institute), MMSD has developed an Unoccupied Domestic Water Flushing Procedure that is being performed every two weeks during periods when buildings have little water usage.
This procedure is designed to flush out all stagnant water from the plumbing system. Shower heads, faucets, sprayers, and aerators are also cleaned during each plumbing system flush.
Navigating and Signage
While teaching and practicing healthy behaviors such as physical distancing, hand hygiene, and covering coughs will be our primary means of maintaining healthy environments, signage will supplement these efforts and serve as reminders of healthy practices. Some signs contain information in three languages English, Hmong and Spanish. These will be displayed at building entrances and in areas close to building entrances, Welcome Centers and main offices.
Cleaning and Disinfecting
Custodial and Maintenance staff will focus on “high touch-point” disinfection cleaning as the first priority. High touch-point areas include desks, tabletops, doorknobs, railings, light and water fixtures, restroom stall door locks, elevator buttons, countertops, chair arms, and phones.
Classroom floors will be wet mopped a minimum of twice per week and spot mopped daily as needed. All classrooms have been outfitted with classroom cleaning kits which will be restocked on a daily basis by our custodians.
Illness During the Day
If a student or staff member develops symptoms during the day students will go to the Care (Isolation) Space and staff members will go home immediately. Rapid antigen testing will be available with consent.
Every school has a designated Care (Isolation) Space. If any student develops COVID-19 symptoms during the day, we will contact their family and they will stay with an adult in the isolation area until someone can pick them up.
If anyone in the school tests positive for Covid-19, the school will reach out to anyone who was in contact with them and may have been exposed to the virus.
What Our Mitigation Strategies Look Like in Our Schools
For the remainder of the school year, the 4K model will be 2 full days per week, either Tue/Wed or Th/Fri. Every effort will be made to give families their choice of days (indicated in the MMSD survey that will be shared with families for them to select their choice). This is a change from the AM/PM session model that families enrolled for pre-pandemic. Families will choose in-person learning, or opt into virtual instruction. Each option would entail two full days of instruction each week. There will not be instruction on Mondays, allowing longer periods of time for mitigation efforts like cleaning and sanitizing classrooms.
Classrooms will be incorporating small-group instruction into the daily schedule. For students receiving virtual instruction, they will use their electronic devices, similar to virtual instruction during the first semester of this school year. Teachers (and Educational Assistants) will continue to use the Seesaw platform for virtual lessons and information to share with families. Students that are receiving in-person instruction will participate in small groups in the classroom.
In 4K, recess is outdoor learning time. Playground access will be staggered. Multiple classes may have recess at the same time; classes will use designated areas of the playground. Families should plan to dress students for the weather everyday including coats, snow pants, hats, mittens and boots. Students will be going outside twice per day, weather permitting.
Students will eat lunch in classrooms to ensure that they are able maintain safe distances from peers.
This may vary by school. Generally, schools will be promoting one-way pedestrian traffic and dedicated entrances and exits. Hallway use will be staggered to allow for distancing. Schools are planning to have bins and/or baskets in a secure place for students to access their individual materials rather than using lockers or hallway cubbies. Restroom use will be staggered and every other stall will be closed for use.
We know many of our students, families and staff are carrying a great deal of anxiety and stress as we plan for the reopening of our schools. We recognize that this involves adapting to significant changes. We will be ready to support the needs of our staff, our students and their families.
Our goal is to support students' needs while limiting the number of environments staff and students are exposed to. When that is not possible, staff should follow all district prescribed Health and Safety procedures, including using the medical-grade PPE issued by Student Services and obtained through the school Health Office.
This is a rapidly changing situation. We recommend consulting the latest information released by Public Health Madison Dane County.
As we begin a phased return to in-person instruction, we need to shift from Wednesday to Monday asynchronous learning based on recommendations from health experts to allow for three consecutive days of deep cleaning of facilities when students are not present.
There will be a second opportunity to change your preference to in-person learning April 5 – April 12th. If you choose to move to in person learning during this second Returning Preference app period, in-person learning for your student would begin Tuesday, May 4th. The three week time period between the closing of the Second Returning Preference App and the start date is due to additional resource planning for staffing, transportation and space due to our COVID-19 mitigation strategies. You can decide to move your child from in-person to virtual learning at any time.