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Madison schools sticking with virtual learning for all grades in 2nd quarter

“This was an agonizing decision for all of us”
Published: Oct. 16, 2020 at 9:38 AM CDT|Updated: Oct. 16, 2020 at 10:18 AM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - The Madison Metropolitan School District will stick with virtual learning for all grade levels for the rest of its semester, opting to utilize online classes for the entire second quarter.

MMSD Superintendent Dr. Carlton D. Jenkins called the decision “agonizing decision for all of us” in a statement Friday morning announcing the move. In the statement, the district noted families and staff were notified of the plans earlier in the day.

The notification also included changes the district will make to how its all-virtual model works. Those adjustments are based on feedback from staff members and families as well as its own analysis, MMSD spokesperson Tim LeMonds explained.

The district attributed its decision to the current state of the coronavirus pandemic across the state, across the county, and across the city. The entire state of Wisconsin averaged nearly 3,000 cases per day over the past two weeks, while Dane Co. alone averaged 133 cases per day, according to the latest reports.

Before making their call, MMSD officials had tracked local public health metrics and consulted with scientists, health experts, focus groups, and others, according to the district. They also took feedback from families and staff and worked with Madison Teachers, Inc., its teachers' union.

“It is always our preference to have students in school buildings, learning face to face and engaging with teachers and staff, however at the heart of this decision was our ultimate responsibility to ensure the safety and well-being of everyone who enters our buildings each day,” Jenkins added.

Madison Metropolitan School District Superintendent Dr. Carlton Jenkins.
Madison Metropolitan School District Superintendent Dr. Carlton Jenkins.(MMSD)

OTHER EFFECTS

The district acknowledged the effects of virtual learning on some students, pointing out the students with disabilities, ones learning new languages, younger students, and ones transitioning into middle school or junior high.

“We are continuing to fine tune our virtual learning approach, and MMSD’s planning team is committed in their work to listen, learn and improve the learning experience for these and all students,” Jenkins said.

MMSD also plans to continue providing child-care through its MSCR Cares program. LeMonds said the district is distributing up to 50,000 meals per week to students, delivered hundreds of students devices and WiFi hotspots to make online learning easier for them, and is supporting its staff and educators in the virtual learning process.

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