Students Return to In-Person Learning
January 6, 2022
Dear MMSD Community,
I would like to thank you for your patience and continued partnership during our pause to in-person learning. We recognize this week has been difficult for many of our scholars, families, and staff.
The MMSD Board of Education held a special meeting with district leadership to discuss our plans moving forward. We heard from families, staff, and our medical advisors who shared their unique perspectives and recommendations. As a result of this collaborative work, including our ongoing review of local health metrics and trends, and receiving guidance from our medical advisors relative to ensuring safety and sustainability, I am announcing our return to in-person learning on Monday, January 10, at all grade levels. Please note, our virtual programs (MVE and Madison Promise) will continue meeting online.
Again, we recognize this week has affected our scholars, families, and staff in many ways. Your input during this time has been passionate, sincere, and truly valued. Our school community is fortunate to have families who care so deeply for our students and staff. Although we prefer our scholars to be connecting in-person with our teachers and staff while learning in our classrooms, this necessary pause strengthened our ability to sustain remaining open safely. Some of our work during the past week has included:
- Meeting and collaborating with our medical advisory team;
- Planning, staffing, and hosting several vaccine and booster clinics as well as COVID-19 testing sites;
- Acquiring a sustainable supply of PPE, rapid antigen tests, and PCR tests;
- Modifying our contact tracing strategy due to anticipated significant increases in cases, while utilizing available staff;
- Refining social-emotional learning lessons for families who request extra support.
Many of our families have asked how they can help us ensure a safe, sustainable return to in-person learning. By partnering with us in keeping our schools safe, there are several important ways students and families can help. First, as an additional layer of safety, we strongly encourage students to be tested for COVID-19 prior to their return on Monday. If your student is displaying symptoms or has been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, MMSD is offering free tests at several school sites throughout the weekend. Other ways you can help us keep schools safe include:
Reviewing district safety mitigation strategies with your students prior to their return;
- Extending grace and support to our staff members who are supporting safety protocol adherence;
- Encouraging proper masking and hand washing;
- Ensuring your student stays home, and gets tested, when sick or showing symptoms;
- Completing COVID-19 screeners and following screener guidance;
- Adhering to physical distancing of three feet for students (six feet when eating) when possible;
Having your student receive COVID-19 vaccinations or boosters.
We will continue to keep you informed as we navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic. We would also like to highlight we are still very much in the midst of the pandemic. Staffing levels as a result of the spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 and possible future variants remain a considerable concern. Hence, it is plausible to expect, a school or a classroom may briefly close, based on staffing levels in a particular building.
On behalf of all of us at MMSD, I want to thank you for continuing to work with us in partnership. Your support allows us to remain nimble in our response to this fast-changing global health crisis. Many of you have shared solutions, great ideas, and offers to help, whether it be access to valuable supplies and resources or uplifting where these resources need to be allocated. This collaborative work is what makes MMSD and our community special.
Carlton D. Jenkins, Ph.D.