MMSD administrators address back-to-school concerns

September 3 is the first day of school for all MMSD students.
Published: Aug. 27, 2021 at 4:32 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 27, 2021 at 6:54 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - With just one week away from the first day of school, some parents are feeling whiplash from the many last-minute changes happening in Madison schools.

“There are a lot of moving parts. Things are changing daily and there’s been a lot of pivoting,” said Julie Jensen, an MMSD parent. “It’s really difficult to pivot along with them.”

Jensen has a child in third, sixth, and ninth grade this upcoming school year. Her most recent frustrations surround the changes to the bus schedules.

“We’re finding out about this a week before school,” said Jensen. “We’re going to have to scramble and do some shuffling.”

Mick Howen, the Director for MMSD Transportation Services, says 18 drivers are needed to get back to the intended bus routes and schedule times.

“When we get back to that point, we would prioritize the schools that are most impacted first,” explained Howen.

He adds that they need to have 46 drivers available for Madison Schools to provide the same services as in the past.

Other parents have said they wish the district made the announcement about a virtual instruction option sooner.

“We recognize families have different needs,” said MMSD Superintendent Dr. Carlton Jenkins. “We’re trying to be open and responsible to our entire community.”

Dr. Jenkins says it’s not easy to make decisions like this.

“It never is just one factor. It really is the nuances of making a decision in the middle of a pandemic,” said Dr. Jenkins. “When you make one decision, you impact 20 things.”

In a Friday news conference, district administrators addressed back-to-school concerns outlining COVID-19 mitigation strategies.

If a child tests positive for COVID-19 or has to quarantine, the student will pivot to independent virtual instruction.

“It is our goal to not have to have teachers do concurrent,” said Dr. Marvin Pryor, the Chief Academic Officer for MMSD. “We’re working with our schools to work out a plan for that particular student and families to accommodate them.”

Superintendent Jenkins says he’s asking families for patience as we approach the start of the school year.

“Some of these things are happening in real time,” said Jenkins. “We’re trying to be nimble to them and respond to them in a responsible way.”

Jensen says she’s optimistic her children will have a great year learning in the classroom.

“I’m just hoping for the best,” she said.

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