Wisconsin Spotlight | Aug. 21, 2020
MADISON — There appears to be a disconnect in the Madison Metropolitan School District’s fall education plan.
Citing health concerns, the district will close schools to in-person learning and provide virtual education to its 27,000 students through at least Oct. 30. District officials do so even as they ask Madison School & Community Recreation (MSCR) to take care of hundreds of kids — at Madison’s public schools — and make sure they’re taking part in virtual learning.
The plan has come under fire by working parents who now must find childcare.
MSCR will host 16 Cares sites to watch about 1,000 elementary school students during the school day. Community providers will offer an additional 830 spots located at elementary and middle schools, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.
Teachers and their union have demanded the district maintain an all virtual education model, and the district complied. It was a difficult decision, according to Madison Teachers Inc. Educators pursue their profession “out of our love working with children.” But with the COVID-19 pandemic lurking, the union says teachers would rather work with children over the internet.
“We are excited to work with our students and families. But we refuse to jeopardize the lives of our children or our families with a reopening plan that relies on magical thinking and unfunded mandates,” MTI said earlier this summer.
Forget the fact that there are a lot of people doing their jobs at workplaces all over the state, COVID-19 or no COVID-19.
If it’s truly about the kids, than why are so many students going to schools that are supposed to be closed to in-person learning so that an adult can help them onto a laptop for a lesson from their home-based teachers?
Madison Metropolitan School District spokesman Timothy LeMonds tells Empower Wisconsin there will be a maximum of 60 children per childcare site, a number that is within public health guidelines for licensed childcare providers. Had the district gone with in-school instruction, he said, there would be several hundred, if not thousands, of students in a single building at one time.
True, but if the district uses the schools for childcare centers, why can’t it come up with a plan that opens up the schools to classes?
School administrators have proposed three education options: all virtual learning, a hybrid of in-class learning and virtual, and all in-person education. District officials say they will review options moving forward and update families on changes.
The district took a lot of heat in the spring semester from parents not happy with the virtual learning plan that saw teachers connecting with their students online a few hours each day, at best. While everyone was caught off guard by the pandemic, there are concerns that many children, particularly struggling students, have fallen further behind because of the ineffective virtual learning plan.
“We know that the virtual learning experience this fall will need to improve markedly from the far-from-ideal situation we were in through the spring,” Jane Belmore, then-Interim Superintendent, wrote in a letter to district families.
For now, it’s virtual learning with some kids in schools turned into daycare facilities.