Welcome back, students!

We hope you and your student are looking forward to the second "first day" of school on Monday.

Remember that next week will be all about connecting with teachers, building community and getting used to new routines, technology and software. We are easing into virtual learning and not jumping right into instruction. Next week your teachers will let you know when they will be holding virtual "office hours" and telling you how to best contact them with questions and concerns.

Wondering what we're expecting of students? 

Sisters Alma and Amelia made a video to explain what we expect from students. (We'll get to family and teacher expectations in a bit.)

Virtual learning expectations for students

What online learning platform will your student use? 

Kindergarten-4th grade students will use Seesaw or Google Classroom for their daily learning engagements. Your teacher will let you know. 

Grades 5-12 will use Google Classroom. 

Students will use Zoom to participate in video conferences with teachers and classes each day. 

First-time Zoom user? 

It's OK! We have all the tips you need to make your first virtual meeting a success. 

Video - MMSD Zoom for Students
 
MMSD Zoom Support Document for STUDENTS

Need help getting into Google Classroom? 

We've heard that some students who are using family-owned devices are having trouble accessing Google Classroom. Parents/guardians, Google has provided step-by-step instructions if you are experiencing this issue. If you continue to have trouble, we'll make sure you know who to reach out to next week to help you troubleshoot.

Teachers take attendance once a week on Friday before 4pm

Students will be considered in attendance if...

  • They submit an assignment at any time during the week or participate in virtual class gatherings during the week.  

OR

  • The student (or student's family, especially for younger grades) is in touch with the teacher at some point throughout the week. This contact includes email, phone, or attending either a virtual lesson or teacher's office hours. 

How many hours are students supposed to learn virtually?

4K*:    1.0 - 1.5 hours daily
K-2:    1.5 -2.0 hours daily 
3-5:     2.0-2.5 hours daily 
6-12:   3.0 hours daily

It is important to note that students should not be in front of technology for the entire time. Students should have a balance between online activities and activities outside of technology.

*Find daily learning plans and other resources for 4K / Early Childhood students and families here

Are there specific hours of the day that students are expected to be online for school? 

Work to create a schedule that works for your family. Ideally some of this time will overlap when teachers are available for additional support. 

8 tips for learning virtually  

This graphic offers eight helpful tips for students and families to not only survive virtual learning, but thrive at it! They include advice for limiting distractions, creating a quiet learning space, taking breaks, connecting with friends virtually, balancing screen time, keeping in touch with other parents and guardians, maintaining a schedule and scheduling time for fun. 

Staying in contact with your child's teacher(s)

If you or your student needs help understanding an assignment, reach out to the teacher with any questions you have. Teachers should let you know the best way to contact them. It might be email, Zoom or phone. 

We know many of you have questions about high school grading

Please know that we are actively problem-solving around high school grading and trying to sort out the many complexities that exist. The state Department of Public Instruction recently published grading guidance, which we will use in our decision-making. We want to ensure that students are not penalized because of school closures. This is not a simple or an easy decision. Thank you for your patience. We will share information when we know more. 

Need help with a digital device or software issue?

If you have not been in contact with your school about a device your student needs or if your student has any hardware issues (charging trouble, keyboard issue, broken screen and so on) or software issues (accessing instructional websites or applications or trouble logging into to their Chromebook), please go to our new Tech Support page and select your child's school from the drop-down menu. 

You will be prompted to send an email to your school's Library & Technology Media Specialist (LMTS), who will work with you and tech services, beginning on Monday, to help solve your issue. 

Starting Tuesday, April 7, we will also have a tech support phone number for you to call if you are not able to send an email. The phone number will be listed at the page linked above. 

Combat coronavirus-related bullying, racism

Incidents of coronavirus-related xenophobia and racism, including physical attacks, are on the rise. The following are just a few resources that address this topic. We encourage you to review them and have developmentally appropriate conversations with your child about the serious consequences of bullying and racism. 

It is important to avoid assumptions or stereotypes about who you think might be sick. Viruses cannot target people from specific populations, ethnicities, or racial backgrounds. A person's race does not make them more or less likely to be sick or to get sick.

NPR: New Site Collects Reports Of Racism Against Asian Americans Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

Teaching Tolerance: How to Respond to Coronavirus Racism

Public Health Madison & Dane County: anti-stigma fact sheet 

PBS: "I am not a virus." How this artist is illustrating coronavirus-fueled racism

Inside Higher Ed: Scholars confront coronavirus-related racism in the classroom and community

Virtual learning expectations for families and teachers 

You have a very important role to play in your child's transition to virtual learning. Just as students have expectations to fulfill as we embark on this journey together, families and teachers do too. 

Families will...

  • Communicate with their child's teacher if they have questions about virtual learning. 
  • Do their best to establish a place for learning at home that minimizes distractions.
  • Set realistic goals for themselves and their child(ren). 
  • Work to establish a routine for learning at home while also being flexible when needed.  
  • Remind their child to check in with their teacher if they have concerns or need support.
  • Communicate with their child’s teacher if they have questions or if their child is sick or can’t participate in virtual learning.
  • Encourage their child to take frequent breaks and engage in non-school related activities.

You can find a list of the expectations for teachers as well, on our new virtual learning website, mmsd.org/virtual-learning.

See you next week!

Again, we are here for you as we enter this new way of learning together. Next week we are easing into virtual learning and not jumping right into instruction. The week will be all about connecting with teachers, building community and getting used to new routines, technology and software. Rest up this weekend, and we look forward to connecting with you and your student on Monday.