, , , ,

Madison school district to delay start of school, switch to virtual learning

District schools were expected to reopen Jan. 3

Lockers at a high school.
Matt Rourke/AP Photo

Madison public schools will delay their reopening from winter break by three days and switch to virtual learning because of surging cases of COVID-19 in the Dane County area.

Madison Metropolitan School District Superintendent Carlton Jenkins sent an email to families Thursday evening announcing that virtual learning will start on Thursday, Jan. 6 for all grade levels. In-person classes were expected to start after the winter holiday season on Monday, Jan. 3.

In the email, Jenkins cited conversations with local health experts for the district’s decision to delay school and switch to virtual learning.

Stay informed on the latest news

Sign up for WPR’s email newsletter.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

“Currently, total case counts are doubling at the alarming rate of every two days. Local and national health experts are forecasting COVID-19 case counts will continue to climb, peaking in mid-to-late January. This increase in cases will further amplify critical staff shortages locally and nationwide,” Jenkins wrote.

The note says that all district staff will return to their work spaces and their normal schedules on Jan. 3. Jenkins wrote that “staff will be working on adapting and developing their plans centered on our students’ academic and social-emotional needs, as well as their current reality.”

Jenkins characterized the delay as a “pause,” which he wrote “will allow us to reset, and better monitor current conditions as well as secure additional resources for safety mitigation. This change will also help us to address critical staff shortages due to COVID-19, and ensure our return to in-person learning is sustainable.”

He also wrote that the district will continue to update families with the latest information and an update will come on Jan. 6.

He added that staff from food services and after-school programs will share more information with families about meal and child care options “in the upcoming days.”

“It has always been our preference to have students learning in-person, in the classroom. Our ultimate responsibility is to ensure our return to school buildings for in-person instruction after winter break will be done in a safe and sustainable manner,” Jenkins wrote.