Petition to keep MMSD virtual during pandemic garners over 1,000 signatures

Published: Jan. 4, 2021 at 12:26 AM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -A petition to keep Madison schools virtual now has more than 1,000 signatures.

This comes days before MMSD is set to announce if students will head back to the classroom next quarter.

There are parents on both sides of the fence.

“We’re starting to have discussions about reopening. But I think trying to push something through within the next three weeks is really asking a lot,” Matt Mitchell, MMSD parent said.

For nearly 10 months, MMSD students completed coursework at home receiving instruction through a screen.

“I’ve actually been pleasantly surprised with how well our daughter is doing in her class,” he said.

Mitchell’s daughter is a fourth grader at Midvale Elementary School.

“She’s been pretty engaged. She’s learning,” he said.

A few weeks ago, Dane County public health rolled out new guidance giving schools the green light to reopen safely.

Mitchell said it’s too soon.

“Right now we would not feel comfortable sending our daughter to Midvale,” he said. “There’s a couple 100 students there, and I just really don’t see how you can safely social distance all the kids there.”

Corinne Engleman has one kid in private school and a junior in high school learning virtually.

“We’re kind of in a rhythm so it’s okay. It was definitely really really hard back in August,” she said.

It’s a difference in dynamics. She said her son’s private school has temperature checks, mask wearing and social distancing requirements.

“He’s still much happier in person even with those constraints then he would be at home,” Engleman said. “And happier than my daughter is right now.”

For kids learning virtually, the impact on their mental health remains a growing concern.

Engleman is seeing it first hand.

“She’s not getting the socialization. It’s very isolating,” she said.

Weighing pros and cons of opening school doors has been an ongoing conversation since the start of the pandemic.

Both parents agree if schools do open, safety is the main priority.

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