Madison Schools to Open in March

The district will start with kindergarteners, before phasing in first- and second-graders a week later.

By Will Kenneally

February 10, 2021 • South Central Region

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Children play on school playground

Children play on school playground.

Wisconsin’s second-largest school district will open its doors again in March.

The Madison Metropolitan School District announced Wednesday it will begin with kindergarteners starting March 9, and phase in first- and second-graders the following week.

“We have learned a lot from this time that we had off and also looking at other school districts and trying to just be as relevant as possible to ensure that we could have a safe return,” said Superintendent Carlton Jenkins.

The district said it would later determine when other grade levels could return to in-person instruction.

“Buildings are different based upon size of building and all that,” he said. “We’re going to have a local decision of how they bring them back…we’re looking at our primary schools and we’re working on our plans, too, for our middle and high schools.”

Madison students can still receive at-home learning if their family chooses, and the district will still reserve one day a week for asynchronous learning days during which students do not meet with teachers.

According to a review by the Wisconsin State Journal, most school districts in Wisconsin had already returned to some version of in-person instruction by September.

Milwaukee Public schools will return to in-person instruction beginning April 12, starting with younger students and phasing in middle and high school students in the following week.

The issue of reopening schools continues to be contentious however. Some parents are concerned about sending their children back, while some politicians have argued for opening up all schools.

“We recognize there is no plan that will satisfy everyone,” said Madison school board president Gloria Reyes. “[The district’s] work has the district in place today to return our students in the safest way possible.”

Dr. Amy Falk, a Wisconsin Rapids pediatrician, recently co-authored a study that found schools offer relatively low opportunity for the virus to spread.

“The schools that we’ve been following, some are quite large and are showing that it can be done well,” Falk said during a Feb. 5 Here & Now interview.

“We’re having just growing data that children’s depression, anxiety rates are sky-high,” she added. “I think it is of utmost importance we try to get them back in.”

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