Parents react to MMSD’s decision to keep kids learning virtually

MADISON, Wis. — Families have differing opinions on whether the Madison Metropolitan School District is making the right move by starting the third quarter of the 2020-2021 school year with all-virtual learning for all grade levels.

“Everyone that I know is very happy about this decision, this is what we wanted,” said Shannon Ballhorn-Wagner, the mother of a 4 year old and 6 year old in MMSD. “Why should our kids go back to school when we have a virus running rampant? And nobody’s been vaccinated yet, none of the people that we need in the schools.”

Lynette Willsey-Schmidt was also happy about the decision. She said she’s been sacrificing her career to stay home with her three daughters who are in Kindergarten, 2nd and 5th grade.

She said no matter what MMSD decided, she was going to keep her kids home anyway.

“School is not for babysitting, school is for education. And our school has found a way to educate our children this year in the safest way possible for everyone,” said Willsey-Schmidt. “We need to be ready and willing to make sacrifices so that our community can be safe, not just individuals but the entire community.”

Willsey-Schmidt said she knows her family is privileged to be able to have her stay home with the kids.

Father Blake Miller said neither he or his wife are able to stay home with their 1st grade son. Instead, they had to hire a retired teacher to help him with school.

“$1,000 a month is a lot of money out of pocket. I feel my child should just be in school like a lot of his friends ,” said Miller.

He said just down the street, where his neighborhood becomes part of the city of Middleton, those kids are going back to the classroom.

“It’s a hard thing to explain to (my son) why his buddies down the street get to go to school and he doesn’t,” said Miller.

He said he’s tried to ask district officials why Middleton students can go back to the classroom, but Madison students can’t, but they haven’t responded.

Andrea Land said her questions have not been answered either.

“You’ve been closed now for 10 months. How do you not have this figured out? Especially with all of the emerging data that’s there for you to show you how to do this safely,” said Land.

She wants to see more transparency from the school district.

“It’d be one thing if there wasn’t data that supports that schools can reopen taking some rather common sense steps and mitigating a lot of the risk,” said Land.