Dear MMSD Families and Staff, 

As you may know, last Tuesday, Public Health Madison & Dane County announced that when Emergency Order #16 expires on June 2, they will not issue a new order. This means in many spaces, masking will be recommended but not required. However, in MMSD, we will continue to require face coverings through the school year. This reflects guidance from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, Wisconsin's Department of Instruction and local Public Health.

We also want to take this opportunity to express our immense gratitude for our students, families and staff. You have done an excellent job observing health protocols in school. Keeping your children home when they have been exposed to COVID-19 or when they have symptoms – even just nasal congestion – is understandably difficult. Yet we have seen, time and time again, it truly does help stop the potential for spread. 

Throughout the month of May, on social media and in our newsletters, we have been celebrating several much-deserved days and weeks of appreciation – appreciation for principals, teachers, nurses and other school staff who put our students first and give their all to growing and nurturing their hearts and minds and keeping them safe. 

In particular we want to lift up our school nurses, who have worked long and often thankless hours. Among their other duties, they lead our contact tracing efforts and have spent countless late evenings making phone calls, lending a caring ear and sharing their expertise and compassion during times that are understandably stressful. They have the sometimes difficult job of reinforcing and explaining mitigation strategies, and we want them to know we recognize the heavy lift this year has been. They are on the front lines, and they deserve our gratitude. 

This whirlwind of a school year, while incredibly challenging in many ways, has also highlighted the incredible strengths of our families through the many ways you have shown up for your children. You are their teachers, their nurses, their leaders, their supporters, above all. In the spirit of these weeks of appreciation, we want you to know how deeply and profoundly grateful to you we are. 

Lastly, we want to thank our health experts. They have been our guidepost through these difficult months. We are hearing very strong recommendations from them related to students 12 and older getting vaccinated. We would like to pass along their position, in particular because they report the numbers of youth aged 12 through 15 in Dane County has been relatively low so far. We stand by our health experts in encouraging all eligible individuals to be vaccinated. For your convenience, we are linking to a list of current vaccine opportunities all over Madison. We hope you can find one that works for your family. 

We've come this far together to keep our students engaged and learning, and we will finish strong together, while looking forward to better, brighter days in the future.