MADISON — And just like that, the Madison Metropolitan School District is locking kids out of in-person education once again in the wake of rising COVID-19 fear.
And parents are not happy about it.
“MMSD is pausing our return from winter break at all grade levels. There will be no instruction until Thursday, Jan. 6. Thursday’s return will be virtual instruction, with the intent to transition back to in-person learning,” the district tweeted late last week.
MMSD is pausing our return from winter break at all grade levels. There will be no instruction until Thursday, Jan. 6. Thursday's return will be virtual instruction, with the intent to transition back to in-person learning. All MMSD staff will return to work on Monday, January 3.
— Madison Schools (WI) (@MMSDschools) December 30, 2021
The district says the decision to close schools followed “intense discussion with local health experts” amid the Omicron variant and its rapid spread. Dane County health officials last week broke its one-day COVID-19 case total on back-to-back days.
District officials say the return to virtual learning is meant to be temporary, depending on reported COVID cases.
But Madison parents and students have been down this road before. MMSD was among the last public school systems in Wisconsin to re-open schools to students in the 2020-21 school year. As has been widely documented, shutting down in-person learning proved disastrous for the academic and emotional well-being of children.
Superintendent Carlton D. Jenkins conceded as much last June when he announced the district would return to on-site education.
“The full reopening of schools is a day the entire community has been waiting for,” Jenkins said. “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.”
Madison schools have some of the worst failure rates in the state — a fact that is not lost on frustrated parents.
“Way to put the kids first again my child will basically have gotten one year of middle school by the time this is over. Virtual is no substitute, thanks for nothing,” one parent tweeted.
“So my vaccinated child can’t go to school… Completely unreasonable,” tweeted another parent.
So my vaccinated child can't go to school… Completely unreasonable.
— Matt/Random (@Rnadmo) December 31, 2021