Dear Families,

I hope you are staying well and finding creative ways to connect with friends and family using social media and physical distance guidelines. As we are getting glimpses of spring, I also hope you get some time outside and that you remain safe and healthy.

I want you to know that we are here for you as we enter this new way of learning together. We know that virtual learning comes with challenges, and we're ready to face them along with you and your children with patience, compassion and out-of-the-box thinking. So thank you in advance for your partnership.

As difficult as this time has been, I've seen so many inspiring and touching acts of kindness and love for neighbors and strangers alike. As we practice social distancing, in some ways I feel we've been brought a little closer together as an #MMSDFamily.

This week our educators jumped right in to some pretty substantial professional learning from home, all while juggling their own personal demands, and I could not be prouder. At the same time our teachers and leaders are preparing for instruction, many more staff are working behind the scenes to secure our buildings, distribute meals and prepare digital devices to be delivered. This is truly an all-hands-on-deck, team effort, and I want to recognize our staff for that.

So, for next week: I know many of you are wondering about expectations, schedule, devices, attendance, grading, and other need-to-know information for next week. This Friday we'll be launching our new Virtual Learning website for students and families. We'll be sending another email at that time with all of these details so that you and your student go into Monday prepared. Please do review the update below about devices. This is an incredibly complex, multi-step process, and we'll have about 6,000 devices out for delivery tomorrow, with another big batch Friday. Our Technology Services department has done a great job of coming up with incredibly innovative solutions to the challenges of confirming needs and addresses with families and delivering the devices under the state's #SaferAtHome orders.

So thank you for your patience. Before I reach back out on Friday with details on virtual learning, here are some updates for this week.

In the meantime, here are some updates for this week.

Be well,

Jane Belmore, Interim Superintendent

P.S. We know this is a tough time for many families, financially. The Foundation for Madison's Public Schools has established two emergency relief funds. If you are in a position to donate, you can find that info toward the end of this newsletter.

If your child does not have a device by Monday, it's OK.

MMSD is teaming up with United Parcel Service (UPS) to have packaged devices delivered to every student who needs them. If you are concerned about your child having a device, know that this week schools are reaching out individually to any family who has not confirmed their device need and mailing address. Please be on the lookout for a phone call, text, or email from your school. If your student hasn't received what they need - whether it's a device, a power cord or other piece of hardware - by Monday, it's OK. Next week we are easing into virtual learning and not jumping right into instruction. We have time to work this out. And please know that if you have multiple students who need a device, they may arrive on different days. Early next week we will also be notifying you how you can submit a ticket for any devices needing repair or other issues and questions that come up around technology. 

Sample daily routine

This is a very high-level example of what your student's day should look like, starting next week. Again, more details will be coming on Friday and as your student begins to work with their teacher.

Enrichment resources

PBS Wisconsin At-Home Learning Broadcasts on The Wisconsin Channel
PBS Wisconsin, in partnership with the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction and Milwaukee PBS, now has at-home learning programming for students and families, broadcasting a new weekday television schedule of programming with digital resources that connect to Wisconsin's state academic standards.
 
The special broadcast schedule will also be available to stream online at pbswisconsin.org/at-home-learning. That website also features corresponding free digital content for at-home learning and support for teachers navigating this new learning landscape.

Madison Public Libraries are offering virtual library cards for use online
If you don't already have a library card, complete this form and a new digital library card will be emailed to you. According to the Madison Public Library website, your virtual library card provides access to Wisconsin's Digital Library (which is home to more than 71,000 digital books, audiobooks, videos and more) through June 30, 2020. Read more.

Students: Share your learning-at-home experiences!

We want to know what it's like learning online. Tell us about the things you miss and how you're adjusting to social distancing. Send us a video or photo showing how you learn and socialize from home with your family and we may share your story with the MMSD community online.
 
Please upload your photo or video (jpeg,png,mov or mp3) using this simple online form, or email your media to us at mmsdnews@madison.k12.wi.us. You can also 'message' us your video through our main MMSD Facebook page. Remember to share your name, school and grade level. (We will be checking each student's photo-sharing settings in Infinite Campus. No photos/videos will be shared of students without the required permissions in IC, unless given written parent/guardian permission.) 

Join our April 8 Facebook Live event on managing stress, nurturing children

Supporting Our MMSD Community During COVID-19: Tune in to Facebook Live on April 8
On Wednesday, April 8 at 2pm, join Dr. Armando Hernandez, Assistant Director of Integrated Health for the Madison Metropolitan School District, with tips for families on managing stress in a healthy way, nurturing your children at home and focusing on strength and resilience during these times of uncertainty. Dr. Hernandez welcomes your questions - please comment on the video to have your questions answered. See the video live on our Facebook page.

Important community reminders during #SaferAtHome

"Stay at home. Vote by mail."
Officials are urging everyone who can to vote in the April 7 election by absentee ballot. You can get started at https://myvote.wi.gov/en-US/VoteAbsentee.

Foundation for Madison's Public Schools Resource Page 
The Foundation for Madison's Public Schools - the key philanthropic partner to MMSD - has mobilized responsive assistance for the schools, staff, scholars and families in our district. The Foundation has established two emergency relief funds to direct resources strategically in response to community-wide precautions around COVID19 - one for MMSD and one for MSCR. Each of these funds will help address the unique needs of these critical assets for the foreseeable future. To learn more, please visit this page and please, consider a gift to help one or both of these funds.

Have you filled out your 2020 Census form yet?
You can complete the Census from the comfort and safety of your home. Most households in the Madison area received Census instructions in the mail and many have already responded. Fill out the form online, by phone, or by mail.
 
Census data determines how federal funds are distributed for affordable housing, childcare, healthcare, education, transportation, and more. Help make sure everyone in Madison is counted by completing your form and reminding friends and family to complete theirs. Fill out your form online at my2020census.gov #MadisonCounts

Keep checking our website

Make sure to continue to check mmsd.org/COVID-19 for the latest updates on virtual learning, food and device distribution and more. The site is updated every day.