COVID-19 has presented unique challenges for each community. Second Harvest of Southern Wisconsin, in partnership with MMSD and the YMCA, will be providing food for those in need. This will be a drive-thru Mobile Pantry every week to distribute food.
 
When: The first Drive-Thru Mobile Pantry will be Thursday May 21st.
Start Time: Distribution will start at 3:00 pm and will end at 5:00pm.
Where: Location will be the drive-thru in front of the East YMCA at 711 Cottage Grove Road, Madison.
 
Any changes to times or locations for mobile pantry distributions will be communicated via our new texting service. To receive a text message when there is a change to the regular schedule, text FOODDANE to 555888.
 
Safety is our number one priority at Second Harvest during this crisis. We have adjusted to as many "no touch" practices as possible. All participants must keep a six-feet social distance at all times. We ask that you be ready with your trunk open, and if your trunk does not work volunteers will place boxes near your car for you to load directly. Anyone experiencing COVID-19 symptoms should not come to pick up food.

There are a lot of questions and perspectives related to Public Health Madison and Dane County’s release of the Forward Dane Plan, and hopefully this information will help clarify and provide answers to questions as they relate to summer sports programs and facilities.  

We will continue to gather information and provide clarifications as information is made available to us. We appreciate and recognize this is not ideal or what we are used to; however, we recognize our responsibility to be great partners with our community and implement safety protocols that will aid in resuming the in-person programming we all miss, and to keep our students safe.

The Governor’s General Counsel has defined the end of the 2019-2020 school year as June 30, 2020 – the statutorily determined end of the school year. This means that school buildings and associated grounds are closed to students for instructional and extracurricular activities through that date. It is possible that an additional order may extend that time further. 

MMSD will implement the following additional provisions in support of Forward Dane and the safe reopening of our schools and community:

1) Virtual spring coaching only can occur through May 30th for spring sports.

2) Virtual summer training activities may begin June 1st related to general strength and fitness training. 

3) MMSD athletic programs will not have in-person programming, this includes summer contact, open gyms, camps, clinics or other training opportunities through July 31st. Additionally:

  • School buildings will be closed through July 31, 2020. This includes all facilities and grounds including athletic fields, outdoor courts, and stadiums, with the exception of certain daycare providers (MSCR, YMCA, Lussier, WYC, and Red Caboose) who will be allowed to utilize our facilities as essential services.
  • MSCR has cancelled all summer programming for the summer session. They may launch a few outdoor activities in July/Aug, but no in building programming will be scheduled.
  • MMSD athletics will not hold any summer contact sessions in person nor encourage students to gather outside of school grounds, to train through July 31st at this time:

MMSD will continue to provide resources for virtual platforms and best practices to continue to provide quality education-based athletic programs as we continue to plan for a return to normal levels of operation when it is deemed safe and when we are able to meet the needs for appropriate cleanliness, hygiene, monitoring, and interaction to safely operate athletic programming.  

Thank you for all you do to support our student-athletes. Please remember and know that we see these words ringing truer every day as we work through this situation and see the value of connections made through our programs, “School isn't just a building, high school sports aren't just a game, match, race, meet, or contest.” 

The Dream Bus bookmobile is now operating as a mobile WiFi hotspot!

It will be parked at the following locations Monday through Thursday. The same social distancing guidelines being used at our school sites apply here as well.
 
10am -12pm: Near corner of Monterey Dr. & Trailsway St. near Warner Park
1pm - 3pm: Allied Drive Learning Center at 2237 Allied Dr.
 
WiFi network: IBR600B-fe2
Password: 44306fe2
 
The Dream Bus is a partnership between Dane County Library Service, Madison Public Library and Madison Public Library Foundation. See additional options for free wireless internet at mmsd.org/access-free-internet.

MMSD High School Graduation: How to watch

WISC-TV/Channel 3 will be airing a special broadcast for each of our high schools on June 12, 13 and 14. They will air on WISC-TV/Channel 3 according to the schedule below. Prior to the first ceremony on June 12, there will be a broadcast of News 3 Now: 2020 Graduation from 6:30-7pm. If you don't have cable, don't worry! These "ceremonies" will also stream concurrently with the television broadcast on channel3000.com

Friday, June 12th:
7-8pm - East HS
8-9pm - La Follette HS
 
Saturday, June 13th:
6.30-7pm - Capital & Shabazz 
7-8pm - Memorial HS
8-9pm - West HS
 
In addition, all of our high school graduations will re-air as a 4.5 hour block on Sunday 6/14 from 11:30am-4pm on TVW, Digital Over-the-air channel 3.2, Charter Cable 14, and Direct TV channel 14, and will be available on demand on SBTV OTT App and channel3000+ on Roku, Amazon Fire, Apple TV, and Android TV.

Temporary food benefits for children who qualify for free or reduced-price meals

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) is currently working on identifying students that have qualified for Free or Reduced-priced school meals at schools participating in the National School Lunch Program so they can receive P-EBT. The P-EBT is a temporary supplemental income to be spent on food for students that have qualified for free or reduced-price school meals.  DHS applied for and was awarded funding from USDA to distribute P-EBT to students that qualify. This is an additional benefit to the free school meals available from MMSD.

  • If you have a question about Pandemic EBT or P-EBT , which are temporary food benefits for children who usually get free or reduced-price school meals, please visit the Wisconsin Department of Health Services webpage for more information.
  • If you have a child or children who qualified for free or reduced-price meals this year or attend a CEP school, you do not need to take any action at this time. If you participate in a state benefit program, such as FoodShare or BadgerCare Plus, the benefits will automatically be provided on your Quest card if you have one or on a P-EBT card that you will receive in the mail. 
  • You will be notified by approximately May 21 if you are getting benefits.
  • All students who attend a CEP school will receive the P-EBT benefit regardless of free or reduced-price eligibility status.
  • The WI Department of Health Services (DHS) has compiled a list of all free and reduced-price students in Wisconsin to provide benefits to. The list is not all-inclusive and may accidentally exclude those that qualify. To ensure all qualifying students receive the P-EBT benefits, DHS has created an online application. A link will be posted to the MMSD Food & Nutrition Department website.
  • The Health and Human Services webpage will be updated as more information becomes available
  • Please do not contact your school or Food & Nutrition Department at this time as they will not have any additional information.

Need support with your Chromebook?

The Family, Youth & Community Engagement (FYCE) Department has produced three videos to support you with your Chromebooks. The video topics are logging into your Chromebook, switching user accounts and accessing Gmail. These videos can be found on the FYCE Facebook Page.

Reminder: WiFi access points at schools

We are committed to doing everything we can to ensure all students can access the internet for virtual learning. In addition to the existing options, most recently we've installed Wireless Access Points (WAPs) at Leopold, Lake View, Mendota, Toki, Orchard Ridge, Lincoln and Falk. 

These WAPs will allow staff and students to access MMSD wireless internet from outside the building using their MMSD-issued device. These WAPs will not allow access to the internet using a non-MMSD device. Wireless internet will be available from 8 am-5 pm seven days a week at these WAPs, and the range is up to 500 feet from the buildings. Learn more, including important reminders about social distancing at our WAPs.

Seniors: Sign up for important college reminder texts

To support recent graduates through the transition to college, encourage your senior student to sign up for texts from MMSD counselors (parents can sign up too). Students will receive approximately 15 text messages throughout the summer reminding them of important next steps, and counselors will be available to respond to text messages and meet with students/families when needed. Their information will not be shared with anyone. 

The following are examples of what counselors will support students with: 

  • Applying for and obtaining financial aid
  • Responding to unanticipated college-related expenses
  • Balancing the challenges of life, work and college planning
  • Completing required college paperwork
  • Communicating with their colleges
  • Connecting students to appropriate resources and supports at their college. 
  • Supporting a change in plans due to COVID 19

Sign up here.

Tune in to our press conference

As a reminder, we've been holding regular virtual press conferences, which is an opportunity for reporters to ask questions of the school board and administration. You can watch the conferences live on this channel. In this week's press conference, we answered questions about our 2020 graduation plans -- both virtual and in-person celebrations -- as well as budget, summer school staffing and our May 13 professional development day.

Join us on Facebook Live on May 14 for our next Coping During COVID-19 session

Join us for our next live session Thursday, May 14 at 3:00 p.m. on Managing Your Money in Uncertain Times, part of our Coping During COVID-19 Facebook Live series. While your health is the most important thing to keep in mind, you might also be concerned about the economy and your financial wellness. That's why MMSD is collaborating with Summit Credit Union to ensure you get the money management tips and tools needed to help you better understand your personal finances. You'll hear from MMSD's Director of Family, Youth and Community Engagement Angela Fitzgerald Ward and Summit Credit Union Financial Education Specialist, Amy Crowe. Together, they'll walk you through knowing where you stand, using what you have, saving, budgeting and changing your financial habits to get you through uncertain times. Ask your questions in the comment section during the presentation and our experts will answer them in real time. 
 
You can view our live session from Wednesday, May 6 here. featuring MMSD's Lead Nurse, Kari Stampfli and Public Health Nurse and Immunization Coordinator, Sarah Hughes of Public Health Madison & Dane County. 

Dear Families,

I hope this message finds you well, and that you and your family enjoy the sunshine that is forecast over the next few days. I wanted to end this week by giving you a brief update on our work on graduation for the class of 2020.  

I first want to say how grateful I am to those families and students who have reached out with suggestions, support and understanding, as we continue to plan and finalize the details on what we are going to be doing to celebrate our seniors.   

Next week you will hear details on our plan for a formal virtual graduation that is in the near term, however what I am excited to tell you today is that we are also planning to recognize the class of 2020 in the long term.  In addition to our formal virtual graduation, our plan also includes an in-person celebration to be held later in the year, on a date to be determined, and when the risk of COVID-19 has subsided and is at a safe level for larger gatherings. 

The planning for our in-person celebration is in the works, and will involve student collaboration  to make it an event that will allow our seniors to come together with their families, to honor their achievements and provide an opportunity for a more personal goodbye and send-off as they move on to the next stage of their lives.  We will be providing you more information and detail on the in-person celebration in the upcoming weeks. 

As final details are ironed out, we are on track to making an announcement regarding our plan for graduation in detail next week on Wednesday. In partnership with local business, the virtual portion of our plan is multi-faceted and will provide an opportunity for the entire community to celebrate, recognize and honor our seniors’ achievements in ways that extend beyond the internet, and most importantly show how much our community appreciates them.

I know this has been a struggle for our seniors and their families, and we appreciate your grace and patience as we felt it important to be very thoughtful in our planning and coordination, while trying to find the right balance between making the Class of 2020’s Graduation the best it can possibly be, while also making it the safest it can be.

Sincerely, 

Jane Belmore
Interim Superintendent

How equity drives our decision-making during COVID-19 and at all times

Our district commitment to equity, specifically racial equity, has guided many of the decisions that we have made during COVID-19. We have embedded equity into our decisions by holding ourselves to a series of questions that our Equity Tool asks. This one page document was developed from the longer MMSD Equity Tool. The questions guide us to consider the students and families who are most impacted, the potential unintended consequences of our decisions and any plans we should be developing to mitigate those issues. 

We know that during complex times when information is changing on a weekly and sometimes daily or hourly basis we have to continue to honor the importance of responding quickly while also pausing long enough to incorporate equity into our decision making, and any feedback we are hearing along the way. There is no final destination per say to our equity work, but we want to share that it is central in all that we do, including through COVID-19. 

Some specific examples of decisions we have made with equity at the forefront include how we selected neighborhood meal sites, how we approached our grading policies, how we are working to get students devices and internet access, how to get instructional packets in multiple languages to families and how we developed our budget. 

Board approves three new projects in support of Black Excellence

We are excited to be collaborating with the community on a number of projects that advance and amplify Black Excellence. These newest projects that were lifted up thanks to the Black Excellence Think Tank and approved by the school board this week include:

  • Umoja Magazine's series of online writing workshops for youth
  • Urban Triage hosting workshops to give adults culturally relevant information on family dynamics, parenting styles, coping and healing during COVID-19
  • Kujichagulia Madison Center for Self-Determination organizing a variety of activities from June 15th through the 20th in celebration of Juneteenth together with families, youth and community members

You can hear more about these projects in remarks from Nichelle Nichols, Executive Director of Equity, Partnerships and Engagement, speaking in Wednesday's press conference.

WiFi and internet access update

In Wednesday's press conference, we gave an update on device distribution and internet access. Briefly, over 20,000 devices are now in students' hands and we have a system in place to respond to devices in need of repair. 

We've identified 1900 households that still may need access to reliable internet, and we're having ongoing discussions with the City of Madison with the goal of making long-term changes to allow for sustainable access for all Madison students. 

In the shorter term, we are partnering with Madison Public Library to use their Dream Bus in the near future as a free WiFi hub, we've ordered more than 1800 wireless hotspots to be mailed to households, and we installed long-range (up to 500 feet) wireless access points at five of our school sites, chosen for neighborhoods that have the greatest concentration of students without internet access: Leopold, Mendota, Toki/Orchard Ridge, Lincoln and Falk. These are live now.

These wireless access points will allow staff and students to access MMSD wireless internet from outside the building using their MMSD issued device from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. You can find more details, including social distancing guidelines that must be followed at these sites, here

You can learn more from Chad Wiese, Executive Director of Building Services, in his press conference remarks.

Planning for in-person commencement gathering at a later date

Earlier today we sent an update on graduation planning to our senior class, their families, and high school staff notifying them that details will be coming next week on virtual graduation and that we are now planning to have an in-person gathering in celebration of the class of 2020 at a later date once it is safe to do so.

Join us on Facebook Live on Wednesday, May 6

We're collaborating with Public Health Madison & Dane County to address your concerns about coronavirus, part of our Coping During COVID-19 Facebook Live series. Join us for a live session on Wednesday, May 6 at 2:00 p.m. featuring MMSD's Lead Nurse, Kari Stampfli and Public Health Nurse and Immunization Coordinator, Sarah Hughes of Public Health Madison & Dane County. Tune in as our healthcare leaders give insight on staying healthy and managing daily life, plus new updates on COVID-19 testing in Wisconsin and details on what Madison's lead public health agency is doing to keep you safe.

Ask your questions in the comment section during the presentation and our experts will answer them in real time. 

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