Your MMSD virtual learning questions, answered

MADISON, Wis. (WMTV)-- The Madison Metropolitan School District is preparing to launch virtual learning next week, a period administrators say will be for “easing” into the new normal.

NBC15 took some of your questions to MMSD leaders.

“We are taking the first week, next week to really have teachers re-engage with students, reconnect with them and support their families in these really challenging circumstances,” Lisa Kvistad, the assistant superintendent for teaching and learning, said.

Parents submitted questions to NBC15 and some were answered in Friday’s video conference.

Q: Will working parents or guardians need to provide supervision during instruction hours?

Depending on grade levels, recommended class times are one to three hours a day.

Interim superintendent Jane Belmore said parents do not have to supervise instruction all the time. “We are expecting that there will be some family interaction time at some time during the day,” she said.

Q: How will teachers foster student engagement and interaction through an online format?

According to TJ McCray, the director of instructional technology, Google Suite will be widely used. Teachers will also have office hours, during which they may invite the entire class or have a one-on-one session.

Q: What's the plan to support the individual needs of special ed students during this crisis?

John Harper, the executive director of student services, explained that staff will be or already have been in contact with parents of special ed students.

He added that some ideas in the works include teleservices for students with speech and language needs, as well as psychology and social work-type services.

“For occupational therapy, physical therapy, that obviously is more difficult,” Harper said. “What we’re planning on doing is through either Zoom or Google Classroom where there can be observation of a therapist, maybe with a caregiver in the home to help guide some the manipulation of students through various therapies.”

Q: How will my child access a Chromebook?

The district assessed which elementary students needed Chromebooks, shipping out nearly 4,000 Friday morning, according to executive director of building and administrative services Chad Wiese. Almost 2,100 more are on their way.

Wiese also explained, the district will ship devices home for middle schoolers who left their Chromebooks in their lockers. For high schoolers, curbside pickup will be available.

Q: Is there a central website for parents if they have any more questions?

Parents can head to Mmsd.org/virtual-learning for updates and FAQs.

The site is also known as the “instructional playground.” There, students can choose different enrichment activities to engage in throughout the day. Kvistad explained the importance of this component, “All of the adults and students in our school district are really seeking to find some places to find some choice and some control over what’s happening to them.”