A return to five-days-a-week, in-person instruction for most students is coming in the Madison Metropolitan School District this fall.
The district confirmed its plan Thursday afternoon, after sharing earlier this week that the return to an in-person instructional model was "certainly the district’s preference in how we start the new school year this fall," as district spokesperson Tim LeMonds wrote in an email.
The announcement cites the good trends locally on COVID-19 as more people receive their vaccinations and the number of new cases drops.
"The full reopening of schools is a day the entire community has been waiting for," superintendent Carlton Jenkins said in the release. "It has always been our preference to have all students learning in-person, connecting face to face with teachers and classmates, and benefiting from learning in a classroom environment."
Monday night, superintendent Jenkins offered a similar sentiment to the School Board.
"We're looking forward to the fall now where we’re estimating five days a week being back," Jenkins told board members as they discussed this spring’s reopening.
There will likely be some level of mitigation measures still in place, though what those are remains unknown. The announcement states the district will provide families with additional information on the plans and safety protocols "in the upcoming weeks."
This spring, the district offered a mix of virtual and in-person instruction as it carried out a phased reopening of its buildings. Nearly one-third of students chose to remain in virtual instruction, however, including approximately 40% of students in grades 6-12.
As of now, the district will have a new virtual learning option, the Madison Promise Academy, to serve up to 250 students in grades 6-12 this fall. While staff are considering virtual options for elementary students, the details of that are still being determined, director of instructional technology and media services TJ McCray told the School Board Monday night.
Many other districts in the state have recently announced they plan to return to five-days-a-week, in-person instruction this fall if they aren’t already offering it. That includes Milwaukee Public Schools, the only district larger than MMSD.
National education leaders have called for a return to in-person instruction, including Randi Weingarten, the head of the nation’s second-largest teachers’ union, and U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona.
Dane County's COVID-19 trends include an increasingly vaccinated population, with 58.5% of residents now fully vaccinated, according to the Public Health Madison & Dane County dashboard. That includes 95.6% of Dane County residents 65 and older, the most at-risk group.
Meanwhile, cases have continued to decrease. PHMDC shared in its June 2 data snapshot that the average of 19 cases per day over the previous 14 days was the lowest since the June 22, 2020, snapshot.
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