Dear MMSD families:    

I hope that the first two days of easing into virtual learning have gone well for your student(s). Thank you for your patience as we work through many details. I’m writing this morning with a few updates. 

Updated calendar, including canceled early release dates and canceled parent-teacher conferences

To reflect the move to virtual learning, we have made minor modifications to the district calendar posted at mmsd.org/calendar. Specifically, the updated calendar shows: 

  • April 10 as the new 3rd Quarter end date for Middle Schools and Shabazz.  As a reminder, High Schools moved to a semester reporting for second semester and there will be no third quarter reporting.

  • April 6 as the start of virtual learning.

  • Canceled K-12 Early Release Mondays because these are not applicable. By design, the virtual school day is flexible and incorporates time for the activities/purposes normally engaged in during early release. 

  • Canceled early release and evening Elementary parent teacher conferences, as these will not be occurring. The virtual learning schedule provides time for staff to communicate with families around student progress.  

  • Canceled ASPIRE testing, which is not occurring per the Wisconsin Department of Instruction directives.

Device and tech support phone number

The best way to report an issue with a device or a problem logging in or accessing instructional websites is to use the drop-down menu on mmsd.org/homesupport, which prompts you to email your school’s Library Media Technology Specialist. We also now have a phone number that you can call if you are unable to send an email: 608-204-5678. You will be asked to leave a voicemail with the following information: a phone number you can be reached at, student ID number, student name, school name and brief description of  the issue. 

To date, nearly 7,000 devices have been mailed home. On Monday and Tuesday, staff working out of our high schools contacted all students who reported an issue and arranged for delivery or curbside pick-up. 

We are prioritizing charging cable requests for the remainder of the week. We will reach out if you reported that your student needed a charger when you replied to the survey. We will make arrangements as quickly as possible to get you a charger. 

We are pausing on any new Chromebook requests until Monday, April 13, to allow the delivery process to work itself out. We are getting returned devices from wrong addresses and we are also dealing with some duplicate requests.

If you have any questions about signing into Chromebooks, here are instructions. If you have an issue, before you request tech support, try restarting the device. Restarting solves many problems. How to restart: Hold down the power button on the side and the refresh button in the middle of the top row on the keyboard.

If your student experiences any trouble signing in to Google using a family-owned device, please reference these instructions

Zoom videoconferencing                             

As we do our best to support students and families, we are using a variety of methods to facilitate education and continue to develop relationships with our families.  We are, whenever possible, using many of the same online tools we employ in face-to-face schooling. However, we need to utilize these tools in new ways and add tools we didn’t need before COVID-19.  

During this time, we are offering the opportunity for students to video conference with classroom teachers for direct instruction through Zoom. We understand that there have been some concerns over Zoom’s privacy and security, and want to update you on what we are doing to protect our students, which is our top priority. 

Teachers have been instructed to utilize one or more of the following features that will allow them to secure their Zoom room:

  • Lock Zoom rooms once they start the class to prohibit others from joining. 

  • Control the screen sharing settings with the room. Limit who can share anything and when sharing can take place.

  • Enable the waiting room, to determine who is allowed in the room.  

  • Disable the chat feature, within the teacher’s room, if needed to prevent unwarranted conversations that might become a distraction for students.

  • Monitor who is in the room, prior to starting, and remove those not familiar to the teacher.

  • Do not allow users to join a room prior to the teacher. 

  • Require a password for access to the room. 

If you have continued concern and DO NOT want your child to participate in Zoom video conferencing, please complete this opt-out form by 3:30 p.m. on April 15.

Please know that opting out means that your child might not have direct instruction, as this is the only means of instruction during this time. If you do not fill out the opt-out form by the deadline, we will assume that you consent to your child using Zoom for virtual learning.  

I also wanted to share these additional clarifications: 

  • Students should not create nor be asked to create accounts. In order to enforce this, all district-issued devices have blocked access to the account creation page.  

  • Teachers will directly invite students to a video conference through a unique URL. No additional login is required of the student. 

  • Students/families should not share the URL that the teacher has provided to students. 

  • Since students cannot create accounts with the MMSD devices, they cannot invite other students or teachers to a Zoom meeting.

  • Teachers have the opportunity to screen share, however, teachers will not record any lessons while students are in the Zoom room.  

  • It will be the responsibility of the teacher to end the meeting to ensure that students do not have access to the room once the lesson or office hour(s) is over.  

  • Teachers managing the Zoom room will manage audio and video for all students. The default for Zoom is that participants will not show their videos. However, please know students can participate through video if the teacher enables this option. 

  • Your child(ren)'s information is confidential, but in a digital format, where small group instruction may occur, others will have access to their image and work product. For example, a student might share a document with others during a video session.  

Please feel free to reach out to your child(ren)’s class teacher or principal if you need additional information. 

We have adopted (with permission from the creator, CESA 2) Video Conferencing Norms for Families, Students and Teachers. Please discuss these with your child(ren) to help make this virtual learning format successful for everyone. In addition, please find further information about Zoom’s privacy for K-12 Schools & Districts here

As a reminder, our students should not be gathering in groups outside the family unit at this time at parks or playgrounds. Thank you for your continued partnership as we find ways to continue to support our MMSD community during these times of uncertainty. 

Sincerely,  

Jane Belmore, Interim Superintendent