MMSD goes virtual, delays return from winter break due to COVID-19 concerns

MADISON, Wis. — The Madison Metropolitan School District is going virtual, delaying its return from winter break due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in Dane County, the district said Thursday evening.

In a news release, the district said instruction is now set to begin on Jan. 6. Classes had been set to resume on Monday.

“Thursday’s return to instruction will be virtual, as planning continues for the district’s intended transition from winter break back to in-person learning,” the release reads. “All MMSD staff will return to their work spaces, schedule, and routines on Monday, January 3.”

RELATED: Dane County sets record for single-day COVID-19 cases for second day in a row

The district cited the Omicron variant of COVID-19 and its quick spread as reasons for the delayed reopening. The announcement comes following “intense discussion with local health experts” and on the same day public health officials reported Dane County broke its single-day COVID-19 case total for the second consecutive day.

Also Thursday, Wisconsin reported its third-highest single-day COVID-19 case total since the pandemic began.

“There are no ‘easy’ decisions relative to navigating the COVID-19 pandemic,” Superintendent Dr. Carlton Jenkins said in the release. “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.”

In an email to parents, the district said food services and MSCR staff will provide more information about meal and childcare options “in the upcoming days.”

“If students left their chromebooks and accessories at school, they will receive communication from building administrators about how to pick up devices,” the email reads. “All students involved in co-curriculars are recommended to be tested prior to returning.”

RELATED: Despite shift by MMSD, other area schools plan to return in-person as scheduled following winter break

The district said it plans to provide an update on its return on Jan. 6. Officials are set to speak to reporters about the changes Friday morning.