Dear MMSD families,
Today, Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) announced our plan to remain in all-virtual learning at all grade levels for the second quarter of the 2020-2021 school year, after considering the current state of the COVID-19 pandemic in Wisconsin, Dane County and the City of Madison.
This agonizing decision comes after weeks of: monitoring and reviewing local public health metrics; in-depth consultation with scientists, health experts, focus groups, and internal as well as external advisory teams; feedback from district families and staff; recommendations from MMSD’s senior leadership team; and close collaboration with Madison Teachers Inc. The second quarter for MMSD runs November 2, 2020 through January 22, 2021.
It is always our preference to have students in our school buildings, learning face to face and engaging with teachers and staff. It is also our ultimate responsibility to ensure the safety and well-being of everyone who enters our buildings each day. We know virtual learning has an impact on numerous students, particularly students with disabilities, English learners, students transitioning to 6th grade and 9th grade, and our youngest students in 4K through 2nd grade. Whether we deliver instruction virtually or in-person, our planning team is committed to working to provide these and all of our students with the best learning experience possible.
For those students who will be participating in childcare with MSCR Cares, and special education classes located in some of our school buildings, we are committed to providing the safest learning spaces possible. Therefore, we will continue adhering to strict protocols that incorporate multiple layers of prevention and mitigation measures, all of which work in concert to keep our students and staff safe. Our dedicated MSCR staff will remain vigilant in their efforts to monitor safety protocols as well as adherence to public health guidelines. I want to thank them for all they are doing each day to provide this vital service, while working to keep everyone safe and healthy.
While we all continue to grapple with this public health crisis, there are many resources available to help you stay safe and well. In particular, we want to highlight our dedicated school nurses, who are eager to help and support students, families and staff. In addition to the important work our nurses do regularly, they also have been providing many resources and services during the COVID-19 pandemic:
Serving as the school point of contact for questions, and providing contact tracing as well as follow-up to students and staff who are symptomatic with COVID-19.
Providing information on COVID-19 and mitigating factors such as mask wearing, hand washing and physical distancing.
Distribution of personal protective equipment (PPE) for health services and special education staff.
Assisting families in accessing health care, including applying for health coverage.
Ensuring families affected by COVID-19 have resources for food, housing and childcare.
At this time, I also want to thank you for the virtual learning feedback you have been providing us. On issues from screen time to scheduling, your input has guided us in making informed adjustments to our all-virtual approach for 2nd quarter. Click here to see some of the meaningful adjustments made to our virtual learning strategy.
MMSD remains committed to our equity vision in our all-virtual learning design, including placing our most marginalized communities at the forefront of our delivery of services. Since the start of virtual learning, we have provided meals to families, and now distribute up to 50,000 meals a week. In addition, we have provided devices and WiFi hotspots to hundreds of students, while supporting all district staff and educators in virtual learning.
Moving forward, we will continue to refine our all-virtual learning experience by continuing to listen to our students, families and teachers. Thank you for providing us grace and understanding as we move forward together during these challenging and complicated times.
Carlton D. Jenkins Ph.D.