MMSD: ‘We’re trying to be nimble’ with back-to-school plans

MADISON, Wis. —  A return to the classroom doesn’t mean a return to normal for Madison schools this fall.

Madison Metropolitan School District is set to start the Fall semester in person on Wednesday and Thursday. District officials announced in a press conference today that may mean requiring teachers to get the vaccine.

In a press conference today, district superintendent Carlton Jenkins said he is in full support of a vaccine mandate for teachers, and that the decision would be discussed further in a meeting with the school board Monday.

“As superintendent, yes, I am recommending that we move forward with a mandate for vaccination,” said Jenkins.

A local teachers’ union has echoed this recommendation, with over 85% of its members saying they’d accept a vaccine mandate.

A period of last-minute changes has drawn concerns from parents. Schools will require masks, symptom-based testing, and recently, staggered class start times.

But Jenkins says that he and other administrators are simply working with what they’ve got.

“Some of these things are happening in real-time,” said Jenkins. “You make one decision, you impact twenty things.”

The staggering of class start times was the product of a national bus driver shortage impacting routes. Currently, MMSD is looking for another eighteen drivers to return their schedules to normal.

Mick Howen, Director of Administrative Services, says the short notice for the time changes was also unavoidable.

“Our transportation process is very complex,” said Howen. “Unfortunately, things don’t really come into a clear picture until just before the school year is starting.”

Overall, administrators say they’re optimistic for the Fall, come what may.

“We want to do everything we can to make sure that our children are safe, our staff are safe, and we’re being responsible to our community,” said Jenkins.