Dear MMSD Families,
With the extension of virtual learning through January, I want to encourage parents and students to take time to focus on your family's safety, wellbeing and health. I know that each and every MMSD family is experiencing this time differently, and I hope you are taking time to reach out to neighbors, friends and others in your community to simply check in, offer support and connect virtually. We will get through this together.
To help your family through these uncertain and challenging times, remember we have many, useful resources available to you. From neighborhood food sites with free breakfast and lunch to health services support from our school nurses, please explore these virtual learning tips, tools and offerings for parents to help students stay balanced and connected. We are here to support you!
Carlton D. Jenkins, Ph.D
MMSD School Year Calendar updated for Quarter 2
The MMSD School Year Calendar has been updated for quarter 2 to reflect our all virtual schedule. You can view the updated calendar in English, Spanish and Hmong at mmsd.org/calendar.
Referenda 2020: A focus on the possible new elementary school near Rimrock Rd
The Rimrock area (south of the beltline and east of South Park St./Highway 14) is home to more than 400 MMSD students who attend schools approximately 6 miles from home with bus rides as long as 42 minutes. We believe that a priority is to build a new elementary school in the Rimrock area to address structural equity concerns and better serve students and families living there.
This proposal is included in the second referenda question that will appear on your November 3 ballot. Learn more about the new elementary school, and all the other projects proposed in the referenda at mmsd.org/future-ready. View the Rimrock video.
MMSD students vote for the first time, encourage fellow students
Ava Kaminski, a senior at La Follette, understands that many policy areas in the U.S. affect youth her age including education and human rights issues and the juvenile justice system. That's why she is passionate about getting more young people involved in the political process.
"This election is important to me because I can't just sit back and let things happen while there are so many injustices going on in the world," said Ava.
This year, Ava and other juniors and seniors at her high school organized the group, La Follette Votes - an initiative dedicated to ensuring MMSD seniors who are 18 years old and eligible to vote have all the information they need to navigate the election process for the first time.
Check out this brief video of Ava describing what democracy looks like to her and what motivated Ava to organize the La Follette Votes initiative.
Voter registration initiatives like La Follette Votes are also active at other MMSD high schools including East, West and Memorial. With more than 800 18-year-old students in the district currently, juniors and seniors have come together collectively to support each other with voter and election resources and to ensure that each student that wants to vote in November can participate in the democratic process.
Are you registered to vote on November 3?
Absentee ballots have already been mailed out, and many of you have voted already. If you need help registering or finding your polling place, here are some resources to help you get started:
Virtual Learning Tip of the Week: Keep your student safe online at home with Securly
MMSD uses Securely to keep students safe online while using their school-issued Chromebooks. Parents and families should already be receiving weekly email reports that detail your child's online activity. You have free access to the SecurlyHome app, an easy to use app that lets you monitor your student's browsing habits and view their real-time online activity feed. Use the app to block inappropriate content and pause the internet from anywhere, anytime. Read the SecurlyHome App Getting Started Guide and check out this video for details on how to set up your own rules for your student's school device. If you have additional questions, please reach out to your school's Library Media Technology Specialist, or LMTS, for help with the SecurlyHome app.
Middle and high school Wednesday attendance changes
We have heard from families that the way attendance has been taken on Wednesdays for both middle and high schools has been more challenging than expected for both students and staff. As a part of the adjustments we are making based on what we've learned, we will be shifting away from taking attendance for every course on Wednesdays, and instead we will take attendance based on communication with virtual mentors, advisors or homeroom teachers. This shift will not impact elementary schools given their homeroom teachers are the advisors and they already take attendance this way. Additional information about possible shifts to elementary Wednesday attendance will follow in the coming weeks.
Our core attendance principles will still apply:
- Attendance will be taken every school day
- Students will have until midnight to engage each school day
- Wednesdays are asynchronous instructional days
Each Wednesday morning virtual mentors, advisors, or homeroom teachers will share a simple Google Form with their students via email or Google Classroom every. It will essentially ask students 1) if they are attending that Wednesday, 2) what mode of communication will be most likely to promote a successful connection during the coming week, and 3) what they are working on and supports that may be needed. Students will need to answer the questions and submit the form.
The virtual mentor, advisor, or homeroom teacher will look at the form responses Wednesday afternoon and mark absent any student who didn't yet respond. Phone calls will go out Wednesday evening to any absent students, reminding them they can still submit the form before midnight. Attendance will be updated Thursday.
Each school will be sharing any additional details with you early next week, before we take attendance using the new approach on Wednesday, October 28th.
MMSD Families: You can take advantage of our text messaging service
Many of you have told us you prefer to receive text messages instead of phone calls from the district and from your school. In order to receive our text messages, you'll need to opt in.
Opting in is simple: text the word YES to our schools' short code number: 67587
If you're already receiving text messages from us, there is nothing you need to do at this time.
You can opt out of messaging at any time by replying to one of our messages with the word STOP. Note that this will opt you out of messages you receive from the district AND from your child's school.
Tips for a safe Halloween
Halloween is going to look different this year due to COVID-19. These tips from Public Health of Madison and Dane County will help you and your kids stay safe this Halloween.
In case you missed it
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.
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.
Attendance is being taken every day. Learn about how attendance works during virtual learning.
If you still 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.
Previous family newsletters are archived on this page on our website.