MMSD extends winter break due to COVID-19 concerns

A decision on a return to in-person classes is expected tomorrow.
Parent's reaction to MMSD winter break delay
Published: Dec. 30, 2021 at 5:27 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 31, 2021 at 11:11 AM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - The Madison Metropolitan School District is expected to release an update tomorrow on if student’s will return to in-person classes next week.

School officials held a board of education meeting tonight, but a school district spokesperson told NBC15 a decision can be expected tomorrow afternoon.

It was previously announced the school district’s goal was to return to in-person classes on Jan. 10th.

School officials say MMSD classes will remain virtual Jan. 6th and 7th.

This an update from a previous story.

The Madison Metropolitan School District is delaying the return from winter break for all grade levels due to increased concern over COVID-19, MMSD announced Thursday, meaning a greater burden for some parents and guardians heading into the new year.

Instruction, which was set to begin Monday, Jan. 3, will now begin Thursday, Jan. 6 and start in a virtual mode, according to the district. MMSD staff will return to their workspaces, schedule and routines on Monday, Jan. 3.

“There are no “easy” decisions relative to navigating the COVID-19 pandemic,” Superintendent Dr. Carlton D. Jenkins said. “We recognize this decision will have a significant impact on our families, especially single parents and essential workers. However, we will continue to leverage our resources to support our families and ensure their safety and wellbeing.”

For MMSD parent of two Trina McMahon, she feels the decision came with short notice, but she is still relieved.

“Obviously it’s an inconvenience,” said McMahon. “But weighing those tradeoffs I think it’s the right decision.”

Her children are in second and sixth grade, and do not require constant one-on-one attention, McMahon explained, making virtual learning less of burden on her family. But she feels for families with younger children who require more attention.

“It’s going to be hard,” she said. “I think there’s almost an echo of last year where it feels more stressful. People are so exhausted. [It’s] even harder because we’ve tasted going back to school and now have to go back virtual.”

According to the district, the pause will allow them to reset and better monitor current conditions of the new Omicron variant of COVID-19. It will also allow time for the district to address staff shortages the pandemic has caused, MMSD said.

“Understanding the social, emotional and mental health benefits of remaining in-person has made this decision incredibly difficult,” Dr. Jenkins said. “It has always been our preference to have students learning in-person, in the classroom. Our ultimate responsibility is to ensure our return to school buildings for in-person instruction after winter break will be done in a safe and sustainable manner.”

McMahon says she worries about the virus’ impact on children who are not vaccinated, those with compromised immune systems and children who are protected but could carry the virus home to at-risk family members. It’s why she feels the return to virtual learning is for the best.

“Even just that pause of a week might help people cycle through what they may have gotten while visiting family over the holidays,” she said.

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