When classes resume on January 25, the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) plans to do so entirely online.
Health metrics do not support a safe return to the classroom “at this time,” Superintendent Carlton Jenkins stated in a statement sent Friday morning.
Madison City schools Reporting Disruptions to Virtual Learning Platform
Each of these choices has been extremely challenging due to our awareness of the wide-ranging effects that virtual education has on some of our students. Supt. Jenkins remarked, “It has always been our preference to have pupils study in the classroom.” To return to our schools for in-person instruction in the safest way possible, with metrics supporting such a return, is also our ultimate responsibility.
In addition to working closely with Madison Teachers Inc., MMSD officials said they considered “reviewing local public health metrics; in-depth consultation with scientists, health experts, focus groups…and feedback from district families and staff” before making their choice.
Members of Madison Teachers Inc.
voted 94% in favour of keeping virtual classes available.
More than 330 students in the district’s special education programme will continue to receive academic and therapeutic support in traditional classroom settings, according to district officials.
According to Jenkins, re-enrolling students in school is an option if and only if safety indicators improve. The district-wide COVID-19 occurrence rate is one of the indicators under consideration.
Several Dane County suburbs have started accepting back elementary and middle school students, with plans to gradually add in the upper grades over the course of the next three months.
Andrew Statz, the executive director of research for the Madison Public Schools, has stated that there are plans in place to restore in-person instruction.
“Symptom screening is an example, where a team is working on that and piloting it now,” Statz says. “It would simply be a question of time before it would be available.”
However, Jenkins acknowledges that some student populations may struggle more than others with the complexities of online education.
Since many students live in multi-generational households with their parents typically serving as vital workers, Jenkins notes that students of colour are disproportionately affected.
There is a health crisis going on right now, and we’re doing everything we can to deal with it.
Here is the complete statement from MMSD:
The third quarter of the 2020-2021 school year will be the first time students in the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) will have access to a fully online classroom, the district said today.
MMSD will start the third quarter virtually, but if conditions for returning students and staff safely improve at any point, the district will implement a plan to safely return students to in-person learning in a phased approach, starting with the youngest students and bringing grade levels back in two week increments, with the hope of bringing back all students when conditions permit.
In order to ensure that schools are safe and ready for in-person instruction, district employees have spent the entire academic year conducting thorough reviews of health and operational indicators and implementing stringent preventative measures and contingency plans in the event of verified cases.
Metrics do not support a safe return to school facilities at this time, despite weeks of investigation, interaction with health experts, and detailed assessment of a recent drop in local cases.
Each of these choices has been extremely challenging due to our awareness of the wide-ranging effects that virtual education has on some of our students. School principal Carlton D. Jenkins has long favoured traditional classroom instruction.
To return to our schools for in-person instruction in the safest way possible, with metrics supporting such a return, is also our ultimate responsibility.
Monitoring and reviewing local public health metrics; extensive consultation with scientists, health experts, focus groups, and internal and external advisory teams; feedback from district families and staff; close collaboration with Madison Teachers Inc. and the Assistant Principal/Principals (APP) group; and careful consideration of the safety of adults in the classroom all factored into the decision to begin the third quarter with a fully virtual schedule.
The district remains dedicated to providing the safest learning environments possible for families whose children are enrolled in MSCR Cares and special education programmes housed in several of our school buildings.
To ensure the safety of its students and employees, MMSD will maintain its adherence to the stringent protocols and many layers of prevention and mitigation measures put in place.