MMSD using virtual options to avoid added school days as snow persists

Madison schools opt for virtual learning on Friday.
Continued snow storms in March are creating problems for schools across the Madison area, as educators try to meet hour requirements.
Published: Mar. 9, 2023 at 10:30 PM CST|Updated: Mar. 10, 2023 at 5:38 AM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Continued snow storms in March are creating problems for schools across the Madison area, as educators try to meet hour requirements while contending with the weather.

“This has been a bad year for snow days,” said Madison Metropolitan School District spokesperson Tim LeMonds. On Friday morning, the school district announced it would take advantage of virtual learning.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, each school board must hold at least 1,050 pupil instruction hours for grades 1-6 and 1,137 for grades 7-12.

MMSD has used four snow days already and were weighing a fifth for Friday as snow falls across Madison. Adding extra days to the school year at this point in the spring semester is not an option for some families.

“I want to know what’s happening and if there’s going to be school or not because sometimes I’m very busy with work and don’t have time,” said Alexis Rodriguez.

Rodriguez says she has two kids in the MMSD system and runs Habanero’s Mexican Grill and cannot afford late changes in the schedule. Families like Rodriguez’s are why LeMonds says they are getting creative to avoid any extension to the year.

“We try to avoid by all costs adding extra days onto the school year because we know that it pushes a lot of things back,” said LeMonds. “So now we’re looking at having an alternative option, such as the virtual learning model.”

LeMonds says students prepared Thursday by gathering materials, like Chromebooks, in the event they go virtual on Friday.

“We don’t have the luxury to just look out the window; we have to think about all the logistics with transportation operations,” said LeMonds. “So, we are meeting at 4 a.m. in the morning, and we’re gonna be looking at all these metrics and trying to make the right decision with the information we have at that time.”

LeMonds says if the switch happens and it goes well, they will go virtual any time a snow day is necessary for the rest of the school year to ensure they avoid adding days to the end of the year.

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