Dear MMSD Families and Community,
I am incredibly excited to welcome our early learners back to school next week!
We've missed having students in our classrooms, and I'm grateful to our MMSD families and community for your continued perseverance and flexibility in this extensive reopening process. It's been a long journey, and we could not have made it to this point without your support and collaboration.
This week, MMSD elementary teachers and staff reported to school buildings for the first time since March 2020. It was great to see staff back in our schools as they work on setting up classrooms, teaching virtually and preparing for an exciting and safe reopening for your student.
As a reminder, asynchronous learning for all students will be on Mondays, beginning March 8th. On Tuesday, March 9, all kindergarten students will transition to their new classrooms for in-person instruction or continue virtual learning, followed by grades 1-2 and then 4K in subsequent weeks. Our buildings will be buzzing with young scholars for the first time in a long time, and staff cannot wait for their return.
For families choosing in-person learning for their student, we've created a school reopening video, Mitigation Strategies in Our Schools, in English, Spanish and Hmong, so in-person students and families are aware of what to expect regarding mandatory mask wearing, handwashing and other mitigation measures. You can also visit the MMSD Reopening webpage for more information.
Additionally, I encourage you to join us for another informative Facebook Live session on building readiness, teacher vaccines and social emotional supports for our students and staff. You can participate in this livestream session by visiting the MMSD Facebook Page on March 11 at 6:00 p.m.
In closing, throughout the MMSD community, there is an incredible level of excitement as everyone makes final preparations for the arrival of our students. Thank you for your enthusiasm and commitment, and to our K-2 families returning to school this month, Welcome Back!
Carlton D. Jenkins, Ph.D.
La Follette alum, Krystyn Jones publishes book for young people with special needs
While recovering from a reconstructive operation in 2017, La Follette High School alum, Krystyn Jones decided she wanted to empower young people through visual storytelling, publishing a children's book about living with spina bifida called, Wonderfully Made.
"My motivation for writing the book was to show children that their disability or medical condition do not define them as a person," Krystyn said. "You are uniquely and wonderfully made and can live freely without limitations knowing you are not a burden to society or anyone." The book, which features Krystyn as the main character, is a story about perseverance, empathy and determination.
HBCU Real Talk: Connecting Black students and families with HBCU Admissions Teams
Real Talk, a virtual college exploration initiative is designed to connect Black students and families with admissions representatives from universities across the country. Real Talk is not your traditional college fair. This series is intentionally designed to feel informal, authentic, and, most of all, real. In this virtual environment, we're committed to creating pathways for Black students to meaningfully engage with colleges and universities.
We're thrilled to launch our spring series in partnership with College Board's A Dream Deferred™ Conference. Join us for a special, two-night Real Talk: HBCU Edition on Wednesday, March 3, and Thursday, March 4 (registration required). Your students will have an opportunity to connect with admissions representatives from the best HBCUs in the country and get questions answered in real time. We'll cover topics such as financial aid, scholarships, academic offerings, career paths, student organizations, Greek life, housing, and more!
All ages and academic achievement levels are welcome.
Black Student Voices Group Educates and Empowers Cherokee Heights Students
A year into working at Cherokee Heights as the school's Student Engagement Coordinator, Dionte Prewitt values the relationships he's built with students and staff. Dionte especially enjoys his role in leading the school's Black Student Voices group.
The group meets virtually each week to promote positive images in Black culture, to help students thrive academically and to reinforce the importance of feeling welcome and connected to the larger school community.
"Black Student Voices is all about helping students find their voice. It's about bolstering our students and showing them examples of exceptional Black men and women from our past, present and the youth who represent our future," says Dionte. "I share with them facts about Black people that they've never heard before and that schools may not be willing to teach them."
Daily Student Health Screener
Our work to prepare buildings to safely welcome back staff and students has centered around our top mitigation strategies - physical distancing, face-coverings, hand hygiene, cleaning/ventilation, and contact tracing. We're also incorporating required daily health screening for staff and students into our overall strategy.
Every morning at 6 a.m., if your child is learning in-person, will receive an automated email from MMSD prompting you to monitor your child's health. You'll need to do this before your child leaves for school.
The email will ask three questions:
- Does your child currently have any symptoms of illness? (Symptoms will be listed.)
- Have you been exposed to anyone with COVID-19 in the past 14 days or been considered a Close Contact of someone with COVID-19 in the past 14 days? (Close Contact will be defined.)
- Has your tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 10 days?
If the answer to all three questions is No, you do NOT need to fill out or submit the screener and your child can come to school.
If you answer Yes to any of the three questions, you do need to complete and submit the screener and your child must stay home. Once you submit the screener, you'll receive a response with instructions on next steps, depending on which question(s) you answered Yes to.
All answers are completely confidential and HIPAA compliant. Your school nurse is the only person who will have access to responses in order to follow up with families.
If you have questions, please visit our frequently asked question page or contact your school nurse.
Middle and high school Monday attendance shift
Beginning March 8th, Mondays will become asynchronous learning days for all students, and synchronous virtual learning will be available Tuesday through Friday. As part of the change in schedule, middle and high school attendance practices will shift to mirror our elementary attendance practices. Our secondary students will participate in asynchronous days by completing assigned work, getting additional support as needed or connecting with virtual mentors. Due to the flexibility in this approach, staff will presumptively submit all students as "present" when taking attendance on Mondays.
We ask that families please communicate with your school office by calling the attendance line or using the attendance web app to provide an excusable reason if your student will not be attending on a
Monday. We hope this shift will help reduce stress for all involved by allowing time and space to focus on student relationships and engagement, as we all adjust to our new weekly schedule.
Special Education reopening updates and resources for families
As we begin the reopening process in early elementary grades, we would like to share what our Department of Student Services team will be doing to address the unique needs of our students with disabilities. Here is a summary of special education services our staff will be providing in preparation for reopening:
- To create the safest circumstances we can, staff and students will be limited in the number of cohorts and/or classrooms they support. Doing so will greatly reduce the risk of COVID-19 spread.
- While we are returning to in-person instruction, there may continue to be situations where virtual special education or related services at the elementary level will be provided.
- Virtual services will continue to minimize instructional environments and maintain highly effective service arrangements. To the greatest possible extent, students with disabilities will be scheduled into classrooms within natural proportions. District office staff will work with the school principal in situations where this may not be possible to understand the circumstances and develop solutions.
Malcolm Shabazz City High School is now accepting applications!
Are you looking for a smaller, more hands on educational experience? Malcolm Shabazz City High School is now accepting applications! Any MMSD student entering grades 9-12 is eligible to apply.
Shabazz emphasizes non-traditional school activities to promote engagement, build community, and provide rich learning experiences:
- community-based experiential and service learning learning opportunities
- outdoor adventure education
- project-based learning
The schedule allows for students to meet traditional high school requirements, keeping doors open for college acceptance, while also providing a unique experience within MMSD.
- Small multi-age classes, grades 9-12
- Interdisciplinary classes allowing for credit attainment in more than one content area
- Many elective course offerings alongside traditional core subject areas, PE/health, and the visual arts
The school's small size enables a learning community providing safety, belonging, and individualized support.
"I am actually liking learning. The work is still hard, but the teachers help. They keep coming back to give more help, rather than meeting with me one time and then leaving me to figure it all out by myself." - Shabazz Student
The 2021-22 School Year Calendar is available now
The 2021-22 school year calendar has been finalized and is available in English, Spanish and Hmong at mmsd.org/calendar.
ACT Testing Update
We cannot test on March 9, as high school students will not be back in buildings yet, and the test requires that it be taken in person. We are now tentatively scheduling the ACT for April 13. The current school year calendar has been updated to reflect this change. As the April date approaches, we will need to decide if we bring in only juniors on that date, along with other considerations for what that means for our other high school grades and staff. We will communicate with you when we know more.
Latino Youth Summit - March 29 and 30
The Latino Youth Summit invites 6th, 7th & 8th graders from across Wisconsin to engage with a culturally responsive curriculum through 2 days of online workshops. Join us as we explore the path from middle school to high school to college. For registration information please contact your school liaison or fill out our registration form.
Advanced Learning Virtual Math Fest: March 15th (for 4th and 5th Graders)
The Advanced Learning (AL) Department will be hosting a Virtual Math Fest for 4th and 5th Graders on Monday, March 15th. The 4th grade Math Fest will run from 9am to 11am and the 5th grade Math Fest will run from 1pm to 3pm. This event will bring together young mathematicians from across MMSD. We believe that this opportunity fosters enthusiasm for learning and pride in each student's school. It also provides an opportunity for advanced math students to experience a math competition. Contact your AL Specialist if you have specific questions about the Virtual Math Fest.
Drop-in tutoring available for students in grades 3-5
The Regent Tutors, in partnership with MSCR, is offering free drop-in tutoring sessions via Zoom for students in grades 3-5 on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 3:30-5pm. The tutoring is offered by our bright scholars in West High School and can help with subjects such as math, reading, science, and history. View the flyer.
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, March 18, 2021, from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., MMSD Superintendent and other guests will be reflecting on a full year of Virtual Learning. We hope you'll tune in to La Movida Radio, 94.5 FM or 1480 AM y call (608) 321-1480 or send a text to participate. Listen to the promo.
Spring break travel guidance from the CDC
MMSD Spring Break is coming up on March 29 - April 2. If your family is considering spring break travel outside of the state or country, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that children quarantine before returning to school buildings. Here are the CDC recommendations for your convenience, (please note these are not requirements):
- Get tested 3-5 days after travel AND stay home and self-quarantine for a full 7 days after travel.
- Even if you test negative, stay home and self-quarantine for a full 7 days.
- If you test positive, isolate yourself for 10 days from your test date if asymptomatic or 10 days from when your symptoms started to protect others from getting infected.
- If you do not get tested, it is safest to stay home and self-quarantine for 10 days after travel.
- Avoid being around people who are at increased risk for severe illness for 14 days, whether you get tested or not.
- If you plan to travel out of the country, the CDC announced on Jan. 12 it is requiring all air passengers arriving to the U.S. from a foreign country to get tested no more than 3 days before their flight departs. Air passengers must present the negative result or documentation of having recovered from COVID-19 to the airline before boarding the flight.
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
We are beginning a phased return to in-person instruction, starting with Kindergarten students, March 9th. Read the full letter.
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.
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 English, Hmong, Khmer 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.