Madison and Milwaukee to go to all-online school for the fall

    children at school looking at a computer
    Children at school (photo by Lucélia Ribeiro, Creative Commons sharealike 2.0)

    On Friday, the Madison Metropolitan School District announced that classes for K-12 students will be 100% online in September for at least the first quarter of the year, which goes until Oct. 30.

    “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,” interim superintendent Jane Belmore wrote in a letter to families. “We are committed to that and will continue to work through the remainder of the summer to ensure that our staff have what they need to prioritize rigor, relationships and anti-racist instruction and to accelerate learning for all students in an all-virtual environment through first quarter.”

    Measures the district will take to improve instruction, Belmore said, include adding professional development days for staff, which could delay the start of school. Classes will begin online no later than Sept. 8. 

    Schools will transition to in-person classroom instruction, or a hybrid of online learning and part-time classroom time later in the year, depending on COVID-19 infection data.

    Subscribe now.

    “I recognize that not having students in school buildings presents numerous challenges and hardships. We are committed to partnering with you to support you and your students through this difficult time, with a special focus on our most marginalized community members,” Belmore wrote.

    The schools will be working with community organizations that offer meals, internet access, child care, healthcare and counseling. 

    Belmore will give further details at a press conference on Friday at 1:00 pm.

    On Thursday, the Milwaukee school board approved a resolution to begin the year online.

    The board also approved a school calendar that begins on Sept. 1 for schools that follow the district’s traditional calendar and Aug. 17 for schools that follow the early-start calendar. 

    Under the Milwaukee schools’ reopening plan, approved by the board, “Teachers and other school-based staff likely will return to school buildings to ensure proper access to technology for staff and to ensure efficiency and equity in virtual instruction, particularly synchronous virtual instruction, unless orders from state or local health officials prohibit staff return.”

    Ruth Conniff
    Ruth Conniff is Editor-in-chief of the Wisconsin Examiner. She formerly served as Editor-in-chief of The Progressive Magazine where she worked for many years from both Madison and Washington, DC. Shortly after Donald Trump took office she moved with her family to Oaxaca, Mexico, and covered U.S./Mexico relations, the migrant caravan, and Mexico’s efforts to grapple with Trump. Conniff is a frequent guest on MSNBC and has appeared on Good Morning America, Democracy Now!, Wisconsin Public Radio, CNN, Fox News and many other radio and television outlets. She has also written for The Nation, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Los Angeles Times, among other publications. She graduated from Yale University in 1990, where she ran track and edited the campus magazine The New Journal. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin with her husband and three daughters.