Dear MMSD Families, 

February is Black History month, and at MMSD, this is a special time where we uplift the knowledge and understanding of Black History, culture and experiences. It's important for our students, staff and our community to reflect on the invaluable contributions African Americans have made, and continue to make.

Throughout the month of February, and beyond, we encourage students to explore ideas that promote respect and understanding of different cultures and backgrounds. It is a time to reflect on important historical events in Black History while taking the opportunity to celebrate and uplift the lives of positive Black role models who are currently making important cultural, social and professional strides that impact our daily lives. 

Some events that are taking place in our schools this month include Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action, where many of our young scholars will participate in thoughtful discussions and texts about racial justice. Nearly all of our elementary school staff and students in the district will engage with Black parents and families through live or recorded storytelling experiences for our annual Read Your Heart Out event.

I also want to acknowledge all of our school counselors during National School Counseling Week. This year MMSD's own, Marianne Matt, was honored with the 2021 Wisconsin School Counselor of the Year award. Marianne is a school counselor at Capital High and has worked in the district for nine years. Marianne has supported our students and families through the stressors of virtual learning and the pandemic, all while ensuring her high school students stay focused on their academic development. 

I want to personally thank Marianne Matt and all of our MMSD school counselors for being present for our students and families during this pandemic and for helping our school communities through these challenging times with positive and empowering thoughts and learning activities. 

Thank you for your continued partnership and support, and for all the commitment you've shown our MMSD community. 

Sincerely, 
Carlton D. Jenkins, Ph.D.

Save the date: Join us February 11th for a Community Conversation with Dr. Jenkins on Facebook Live

The next session in our series of Facebook Live conversations with the superintendent will be held on Thursday, February 11, at 6pm, on our MMSD Facebook Page. This series focuses on various topics, including reopening MMSD buildings, and features school board members, central office leaders, health experts and district staff. We hope to see you there! 

MSCR Girls Inc. teaches girls to be strong, smart and bold 

MSCR has nearly 100 girls signed up to participate in Girls Inc. Afterschool Clubs from home and approximately 40 more participating at MSCR Cares sites. The facilitators are supported with funding from Community Learning Center grants. Goodman Community Center and Girls Inc. of Greater Madison supports MSCR programs and provides the facilitators with the necessary training and access to Girls Inc. curriculum. This semester the team is participating in the She Votes programs. The goal is to teach girls the importance of understanding how government works, how to use their voices and vote to make themselves heard. MSCR Girls Inc. hopes to offer a few live virtual events this spring centered on that theme, hopefully including some strong local female politicians. Learn more about MSCR Girls Inc.

17th annual Read Your Heart Out virtual event is Feb. 5  

The Family, Youth & Community Engagement (FYCE) Department will launch this year's virtual Read Your Heart Out event on February 5 at 9:30 a.m. on the MMSD Facebook Page. We hope you will join us for this exciting event featuring a live interview with Michelle Belnavis, former MMSD administrator and founder of Read Your Heart Out. Attendees will also be treated to live storytelling and an African drumming demonstration.

Throughout the month of February, schools across MMSD will participate in this celebration of National African American Parent Involvement Day. Traditionally parents, community members and volunteers read books, recite poetry or connect with students through visual or oral storytelling in the classroom during the event. However, due to COVID-19, readers will now engage with students virtually.

We're inviting African American/Black families and community members to contact schools to volunteer to read to students. If you do not identify as African American/Black and would like to support, please contact your school to learn of other ways that you can support readers and students for RYHO. Please visit our RYHO website, mmsd.org/ryho for more information about the event. All families are also encouraged to read books by Black authors to their children. This resource offers recommendations for books to consider: Children's Books by Black Authors

For more information about RYHO, please email FYCE Coordinator Emily Peterson at epeterson@madison.k12.wi.us. You can also follow FYCE's Facebook page for more information and resources for families.

Rapid COVID-19 tests now helping schools identify positive cases and close contacts faster 

Nurses have begun testing students and staff who develop symptoms of COVID-19 while at school. This is available for staff and students participating in in-person programming at all elementary and elementary/middle combined schools. The BinaxNOW tests we are using give results in 15 minutes. As a result, we have been able to isolate positive individuals and notify and quarantine their close contacts 1-3 days earlier than we would have by relying on PCR tests. Please contact your school nurse (mmsd.org/nurse) with any questions about COVID-19 testing in schools.

Randall Elementary students featured in the news for attending "Zoo School"

The Bayview Foundation and Henry Vilas Zoo have partnered to give students a unique educational environment in which to do their virtual learning while school buildings are closed. These students are also able to interact with the animals and use their environment to study the great outdoors. Read the full story.

Enrollment for 4K and Kindergarten will be virtual this year

Enrollment for four-year-old kindergarten (4K) and five-year-old kindergarten for the 2021-22 school year is happening soon! Online enrollment for 4K and kindergarten programming will open on February 22, and elementary school staff will be available via Zoom on Monday, March 1 from 2pm - 6pm, to assist you in finalizing the process, including the verification of any paperwork you may need to submit. 
 
Enrollment is for families who have NOT previously attended a 4K or early childhood program through MMSD. Learn more about 4K at mmsd.org/4k and kindergarten at mmsd.org/kinder.

Reminder: We need your feedback on our facilities projects

We are continuing our input and feedback sessions to hear from our students, families, staff and community about our next steps on all the facilities projects that will be funded by the referenda our community passed in November. You are welcome to attend any session, keeping in mind the focus of each session will be on the school listed, and all sessions will be recorded and available on Facebook and YouTube after the event. The remaining dates are as follows: 

  • West: Thursday, February 4, 5:30-6:30pm
  • Rimrock area new elementary school: Tuesday, February 23, 5:30-6:30pm

We also encourage you to submit your feedback through the form on our website at mmsd.org/future-ready

Reminder: Early College STEM Academy application deadline is Feb. 5

10th graders: Are you interested in a future career in health and medicine, engineering, information technology or other STEM-related fields? If the answer is yes, apply online today for the Early College STEM Academy (ECSA) - an opportunity to take college courses and earn college credit in science, technology, engineering and math courses for free!

MMSD and Madison College are partners in presenting this dual enrollment program for students like you to take college classes in STEM fields with courses that can transfer to a four-year college or university at no cost to you or your family. This is a unique experience for those students who are traditionally underrepresented in STEM-related fields including students of color and young women. 

You have until February 5, 2021 to apply online here. If you have more questions, please visit the Early College STEM Academy webpage, connect with your school counselor or tune into an upcoming Facebook Live Session we're hosting tonight, Wednesday February 3 at 6:00 p.m on the MMSD Facebook Page. This session is an interactive conversation with the community about MMSD secondary programs available to you and the learning opportunities you can explore in high school based on your personal goals. 

Live Virtual Planetarium Event: Landing on Mars

This month, three spacecraft from three nations will arrive at Mars. On February 18th, NASA's Perseverance Rover will attempt to land. China and the United Arab Emirates have spacecraft arriving as well. Join us on Tuesday, February 16, 6:30pm for this virtual program to learn more about these missions and to explore the current night sky. This event is FREE but registration is required. Only 1 ticket is required per household. We will send you a Zoom link via email on the day of the event.

MSCR is hosting a variety of fun activities this month! 

MSCR Celebrates Black History Month
Celebrate Black History Month by sharing your talents with the greater MSCR community. Create a piece of artwork inspired by Black leaders or visionaries whose message speaks to you. Then submit your art (paintings, drawings, collages, even videos of songs or dances) to MSCR Staff. All of the artwork will be showcased in a virtual art gallery for the entire month! Takes place February 1-19. Free, but use course #28440 to register. 

MSCR presents "Screen Free Boredom Buster" for you and your COVID-19 Bubble
"Screen Free Boredom Buster" activities begin in late January and end in early April. Every few weeks the "activity" changes. All activities are free but registration is required for participants to receive information from MSCR. At the end of each activity time period, participants showcase their completed activity [format depends on activity] Complete individually or as a group, you decide! Only one person per family / group needs to register.

MSCR Valentine's Day Card Challenge
It's tough being away from friends, family and loved ones. Let's share our love, hugs and joy with the MSCR'S Valentine's Day Card Challenge. Learn new holiday crafts and share your ideas with peers on Google Classroom. Watch fun video tutorials to create unique cards. Send out as many cards as you and your household can make within two weeks. Drop boxes will be located at MSCR East and MSCR Hoyt where you can also leave valentines for frontline and essential workers at the local hospitals. Our goal is to send out over 500 cards - can you help us spread the love? This is free and takes place February 1-12.

Tune in and participate during this month's radio show ¿Qué pasa en nuestras escuelas? 

During the radio show ¿Qué pasa en nuestras escuelas? on Thursday, February 18, 2021, from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., we will present these topics: 4K program and its importance, enrollment, 4K Full Day Pilot Program and an update on the projects of MMSD Future Ready. We hope you'll tune in to La Movida Radio, 94.5 FM or 1480 AM or call (608) 321-1480 to participate. Listen to the promo.

Community Events

There are many amazing opportunities throughout the Madison community for our students and families. View some of these opportunities here

If you are interested in seeing your organization's event on this page, read about how you can do that here

In case you missed it

The 2020-21 school year calendar has been revised for the third quarter and is available at mmsd.org/calendar. The only changes were the removal of high school early release on Mondays, and updating 4K/5K Enrollment to be virtual. The 2021-22 school year calendar will be made available by the end of March.

A conversation with health experts on Facebook Live: We held a session on Thursday, January 14, as part of a series of conversations on reopening MMSD Buildings, featuring school board members, central office leaders, health experts and district staff. If you were unable to tune in live, the session is available to watch on our YouTube channel here.

Project Recovery has a FREE, confidential, local support and education line to help people cope with COVID-19 and this stressful time. Learn more.

MMSD is working with the Madison Public Libraries to ensure all students have access to books during this pandemic. Learn more about how your students can get library books.

Special Education updates and resources for families during virtual learning

The Hmong Institute has a COVID-19 Resource Line, set up to close the language barrier gap and provide bilingual and bicultural support to support Southeast Asian and other refugees in Wisconsin affected by COVID-19 to better access resources and navigate the systems in their communities. Learn more about this in EnglishHmongKhmer or Tibetan

If you haven't already, you can opt in to receive texts from the district and your school(s) by texting the word YES to 67587 from your mobile device. 

We have 40 neighborhood food sites set up around Madison offering curbside meal service for all children 18 years of age or younger. Each site has pickup one day per week. Visit this page to learn more.

If you need a device exchanged, please contact your school's LMTS. Learn more about the process here

How to contact your school: While we're virtual, we want to make sure you're still able to contact your school. There are currently three ways you can get in touch with your school. Find them here.

How to get help during COVID-19, from Public Health and the City of Madison: View the "How To" community resources pages here.

The Foundation for Madison's Public Schools has been raising emergency relief funds and collaborating with community partners to ensure our MMSD and MSCR students, families and staff have the resources and financial support to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more here.   

NAMI Dane County has a free support line from 8:30-4:30pm and provides numerous support groups and classes for individuals impacted by mental health needs. Learn more

The City of Madison recently launched a free Financial Resources Hotline to help residents navigate financial issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Financial Navigators provide free guidance, over the phone, to help residents access available programs and services to manage income loss and other financial concerns they may be experiencing.

Previous family newsletters are archived on this page on our website.