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Madison schools use social media to keep students connected during COVID-19 break

Madison schools use social media to keep students connected during COVID-19 break


Wright Middle School principal Angie Hicks is doing daily announcement videos on YouTube.

Click play, close your eyes and be transported to the daily announcements at school.

Many Madison Metropolitan School District schools are taking advantage of social media to keep a sense of familiarity with their students during the COVID-19 closures that began Monday and will last “until further notice” by order of Gov. Tony Evers.

“Gooooooooood mooooorrrrrrning Wright Panthers,” begins Wright Middle School principal Angie Hicks in her videos. “If you have not yet started your day today, you are now tardy. T-A-R-D-Y, tardy. We are creating a clear path to success and we are taking care of business every day. Excellence matters.”

Followed by a brief music clip of “Ain’t no stoppin’ us now, We’re on the move,” Wright is doing the daily announcements “like I do every day at school,” she told the Cap Times in an email.

“I want to keep connected with scholars and let them know that even though this is something that we've never experienced before we can still keep some consistency and routine about our day and lives, we just have to do it a bit differently,” Hicks said.

[Cap Times coverage of COVID-19]

Others are offering read-a-longs, bedtime stories and daily mindfulness practice videos. The district has offered enrichment materials online, but so far not mandated virtual learning. An email to families sent Wednesday night stated that virtual learning would begin in early- or mid-April if schools are still closed at that time.

“It is taking time to work through the many details, such as the large number of our families who do not have long-term access to the internet or devices, how to best meet students with special needs concerns, and ensuring our teachers are equipped to teach online and that we have the infrastructure to do it,” the email from interim superintendent Jane Belmore states. “We know from our discussions with other area superintendents of larger districts that they are wrestling with the same concerns.

In the meantime, Elvehjem Elementary School posted a Facebook Live video of principal Sarah Larson reading “Goodnight, Madison,” a book the students have read together before, she said in the video. It has more than 1,000 views.

Orchard Ridge Elementary School principal Becky Kundert said the school wanted staff members to share something with students each day. Kundert read a book herself on Tuesday, and the school’s librarian was the video reader Wednesday. Thursday, the art teacher was sharing a magic show with animation.

“This also helps our students to continue seeing our faces and provides a fun and light time during their day,” Kundert wrote in an email.

[Child care facilities restricted to 10 staff, 50 students under new order from Evers, DHS]

Glenn Stephens Elementary School positive behavior support coach Marci Speich posted a “Movin’ Minds Practices” video Wednesday focused on one of the school’s normal daily mindfulness practices. Wednesday’s was a strategy called, “A Special Place.”

“Sometimes we’re going to feel worried or mad or sad, and that’s OK,” Speich said in the video. “One strategy we can use is to, kind of like we talked about last month, turn the channel.

“You can turn the channel to your special place,” she continued, suggesting ideas like swinging on a swing set at recess or playing basketball.

“Whatever that special place might be is perfect.”

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Scott Girard is the local k-12 education reporter at the Cap Times. A Madison native, he joined the paper in 2019 after working for six years for Unified Newspaper Group. Follow him on Twitter @sgirard9.

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