Students Return From Winter Break Paused
December 30, 2021
Dear MMSD Families,
Due to the increased incidence of COVID-19 in our community, and after intense discussion with local health experts, the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) is pausing our return from winter break at all grade levels, including MSCR programming. As a result, there will be no instruction until Thursday, January 6.
As part of this pause, Thursday's return to instruction will be virtual, as we continue to plan for our intended transition from winter break back to in-person learning. However, all MMSD staff will return to their work spaces, schedule, and routines on Monday, January 3. During this time, staff will be working on adapting and developing their plans centered on our students’ academic and social-emotional needs, as well as their current reality.
Recently, the new Omicron variant of COVID-19 has fueled a steep upward trajectory in positive Dane County cases. Currently, total case counts are doubling at the alarming rate of every two days. Local and national health experts are forecasting COVID-19 case counts will continue to climb, peaking in mid-to-late January. This increase in cases will further amplify critical staff shortages locally and nationwide.
There are no "easy" decisions relative to navigating the COVID-19 pandemic. We recognize this decision will have a significant impact on all of our families, especially single parents and essential workers. However, we will continue to leverage our resources to support our families, while working to ensure their safety and wellbeing.
Throughout the pandemic, our layered safety strategy has been highly effective in mitigating spread and keeping our schools safe. The pause will allow us to reset, and better monitor current conditions as well as secure additional resources for safety mitigation. This change will also help us to address critical staff shortages due to COVID-19, and ensure our return to in-person learning is sustainable.
We are committed to providing you with the latest information as soon as we are able, and you can expect an update on our return next Thursday, January 6. In addition, food services and MSCR staff will be communicating more information on meal and childcare options in the upcoming days. If students left their chromebooks and accessories at school, they will receive communication from building administrators about how to pick up devices. All students involved in co-curriculars are recommended to be tested prior to returning.
Understanding the social emotional and mental health benefits of remaining in-person has made this decision incredibly difficult. It has always been our preference to have students learning in-person, in the classroom. Our ultimate responsibility is to ensure our return to school buildings for in-person instruction after winter break will be done in a safe and sustainable manner.
Carlton D. Jenkins, Ph.D.