Madison schools to begin virtual learning

MADISON, Wis. — Representatives from the Madison Metropolitan School District announced Friday in a virtual news conference that online instruction will begin for students on Monday.

Time dedicated to virtual learning will vary depending on grade level. For 4K students this will mean one hour to 1.5 hours a day — with a maximum of three hours a day for grades six through 12.

MMSD officials said they plan to ease into virtual learning focusing on the social and emotional needs of the student body. The first week will be dedicated to allowing students and their teachers to reconnect.

“We’ve heard that children are missing school and they’re missing their classmates and the adults that they’ve had in the classroom with them,” said MMSD Teaching and Learning Assistant Superintendent Lisa Kvistad. “We want to strengthen those connections again and support families in understanding this.”

To make sure students are engaged teachers will be taking attendance at the beginning and end of the week, hosting virtual office hours and reaching out to families as needed to make sure all students have access.

After conducting surveys and contacting families directly to identify where the needs are, for the devices crucial to online learning, staff will have shipped over 6,000 Chromebooks for students kindergarten through grade 5 by Monday.

In the case of devices accidentally left in lockers, high schoolers will likely have to pick up their equipment curbside at their schools and middle schoolers will have their devices shipped to them.

Once online learning is underway families will have more flexibility throughout the day to meet the recommended learning hours to accommodate their differing needs.

“We know that families have their own individual routines and we really want to encourage families to continue with their routines and see how this will work for them as they get started,” Kvistad said.

District representatives also said that families will have access to lesson plans online as well as tips for parents on how to navigate virtual learning.

The district has yet to determine what kind of grading scale will be instituted during this period, but MMSD Pathways and Secondary Programs Director Cindy Green said it’s important for them to lead with compassion and flexibility.

“We see this as opportunities for students to continue to grow in their learning,” Green said, “and for students to improve where they left off on March 13 but we don’t want this to negatively impact students’ grades at any grade level.”