Grade 4K-5

We plan to start the third quarter of the 2020-2021 school year by remaining in an all-virtual learning environment at all grade levels. Although we will begin 3rd Quarter Virtual, if at any time conditions for bringing students back improve, we will implement a plan to safely return students back to in-person learning in a phased approach beginning with our earliest learners.

Knowing how virtual learning impacts a number of our students has made each one of these decisions incredibly difficult. Although it is our preference to have all students learning in-person, connecting face to face with teachers and classmates, and benefiting from learning in a classroom environment, it is also our ultimate responsibility to ensure when we do return to our school buildings, it be done in the safest way possible with metrics supporting a safe return.

We understand families will have many questions. We have provided some FAQs below and will be adding to this resource as our community reaches out. Please utilize the red pop up button at the bottom of your screen that says “Contact Us” with any additional questions and feedback. This new feature on our website sends specific questions to an appropriate MMSD staff member in a more timely manner. The tool is mobile friendly, and we hope you find it a valuable resource.


  • Students would experience a full-day schedule of learning, with math and literacy as priorities. Because our schools have such variety, we are not approaching this as a one-size-fits-all model, and are working with individual school leaders and staff to determine what model would work best for each school.

    For example, we have some very small elementary schools and some quite large ones. We have Hmong and Spanish dual-language immersion schools. We have community schools. Based on an individual school, classroom make up can vary, including the number of students and teaching and support staff in a particular classroom.

    So as we prepare for our younger elementary students to return to in-person learning, we know we will need to build models that support the academic needs, the social-emotional needs, the language needs and the health and safety needs of our students learning in-person as well as virtually.

    This means looking at class sizes (dependent in part on how many students choose to return versus remain virtual), physical distancing requirements, instructional design, staffing and more. There are many factors to consider, and at this point we have a lot of work to do with our families and staff in terms of uncovering many unknowns.

  • We're looking at a four-day-a week model. A student returning in-person would have four days of synchronous, in-person instruction. A student whose family decides to keep them home learning virtually would have four days of synchronous, virtual instruction. Monday is the asynchronous day, which would allow us to take advantage of a longer weekend for mitigation efforts like cleaning and sanitizing.

  • Classrooms will be incorporating small-group instruction, during which time students working independently may be learning on their devices using Lexia or a variety of math programs. Students will need to bring their charged Chromebook and charger with them to school every day.

  • Yes, we believe it is important for students to be able to get outside and experience recess with other students. Playground access will be staggered. Multiple classes may have recess at the same time, but they would use specific parts of the playground. Weather permitting, schools will also strive to provide outdoor learning experiences.

  • The recommendation is that we will eat lunch in classrooms to be sure that students are staying in their pods and maintaining safe distance.

  • Specials will be taught virtually, with students remaining in their pods. Public Health asks that we ensure that student and employee groupings are as static as possible by having the same group of students stay with the same staff as much as possible. As long as students stay in cohorts, it is permissible to have them move from space to space, but it is safest to remain in classrooms as much as possible.

  • This may vary by school, but generally, schools will be promoting one-way pedestrian traffic and dedicated entrances and exit. Hallway use will be staggered to allow for distancing. Some schools are planning to have bins or baskets next to each student's desk rather than using lockers or hallway cubbies. Restroom use will be staggered and every other stall will be closed for use.

  • Schools will still have supply lists, but there will be fewer supplies than in previous school years. Students will not share supplies.

  • Our goal would be to phase in additional grade levels as soon as possible in two week intervals, if reopening goes smoothly and if community indicators of virus transmission support continued reopening.

  • We know many of our students, families and staff are carrying a great deal of anxiety and stress as we approach a decision, whether the decision is to return in person or continue with virtual learning. We recognize that both scenarios involve adapting to significant changes. Whatever decision is made, we will be ready to support the needs of our staff, our students and their families.

  • Our goal is to support students' needs while limiting the number of environments staff and students are exposed to. When that is not possible, staff should follow all district prescribed Health and Safety procedures, including using the medical-grade PPE issued by Student Services and obtained through the school Health Office.

  • This is a rapidly changing situation, so we recommend consulting the latest information released by Public Health Madison Dane County.