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MMSD considers 3 plans for fall; hybrid would have students in school 2 days, virtual 3 each week
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MMSD considers 3 plans for fall; hybrid would have students in school 2 days, virtual 3 each week

Madison East (copy)

Students would attend school in-person two days each week under the Madison Metropolitan School District's hybrid plan for the fall.

The Madison Metropolitan School District released its preliminary fall reopening plan Friday afternoon.

According to a news release, district officials are planning for three scenarios amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic: all in-person, all virtual learning and a "hybrid model" that would be a blend of the two. Under that model, students would be divided into two cohorts, attending school in-person two days each week and learning virtually for three days.

"The health and safety of our students has been the cornerstone of our plan development for the fall," interim superintendent Jane Belmore said in the release. "With guidance, information and research around COVID-19 evolving very rapidly, the district's approach to the reopening of schools will need to be flexible, nimble and with a plan that positions the district in an optimal state of readiness."

Under the hybrid plan, students in Cohort A would attend in-person Monday and Tuesday and learn virtually Wednesday through Friday. Cohort B students would learn virtually Monday through Wednesday and attend in-person Thursday and Friday.

Wednesdays would be used for deep cleaning the schools while teachers would do virtual professional development and planning. 

The district is also exploring an all-virtual learning option for students who cannot return in-person until a vaccine is developed or conditions change otherwise. That would likely include students who have a family member or are themselves at greater risk for serious complications if they contract COVID-19.

A hybrid model would come with challenges, especially for working parents as the economy reopens.

"We know there are many details yet to be worked out for the hybrid model, with child care and transportation among them," Belmore said. "We continue to be grateful for our community's grace and understanding, and we thank our school community for their partnership and important feedback."

The district received feedback on various hybrid options from focus groups, the release states, and will soon gather feedback from the school community through a questionnaire.

The state Department of Public Instruction issued guidance earlier this week for districts around the state on best practices for the fall reopening, but local districts will make the final decisions. DPI's guidance included suggestions for alternative schedules like the one MMSD released Friday.

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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.

Related to this story

There are two major changes from the virtual learning the district put in place this spring. High school students can earn letter grades for courses, as long as the credit they’re recovering was in a class taken before the pandemic closed schools. Students up to grade 7, meanwhile, will have more direct interaction with their teachers.