School Board Approves Opening Dates for All Grades

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Cameron Bren

MIDDLETON–The Middleton Cross Plains Area School District (MCPASD) Board of Education approved start dates for middle and high school students enrolled in the district’s blended in-person/virtual instruction model. Students in grades PK-4 began Feb. 1, while grades 5-8 are set to begin Feb. 22 and 9-12 on Mar. 11. The district will continue offering fully virtual instruction through the end of the year, of which about 10 percent of district students are enrolled. 

The school board met in-person for the first time since schools were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic on Mar. 18, 2020. 

School board members toured the middle and high school buildings before the week prior to voting on the start dates. 

Board member Bob Hesselbein said he was impressed with all the work staff have done to ensure a safe return to in-person instruction.

“I don’t think there are enough words to describe how much work the staff, the educators, have done to prepare those schools for a safe return using the model that we elected to take,” Hesselbein said.

Hesselbein said the staff have implemented a robust system despite starting from a blank template.  

“They had to research what was necessary and then translate it into constructive steps within each one of their buildings and within each one of their rooms,” Hesselbein said. “And it’s not just mentally preparing a program, it’s putting markers on the floor, spatially moving things and getting the technology. All the while they are teaching in a virtual environment.”

Board member Minza Karim praised the work district staff have been doing, noting how it has personally affected her and her elementary level children. 

“It was amazing, the kids had a great day,” Karim said. “They were excited and now as we are in the second week, I can see how my kids are so excited and waiting for Thursday to go back to school.”

School board president Annette Ashley said it became clear during the tours how much effort the staff are putting into the reopening plan.

“They really put time and effort into putting that in place, they are prepared,” Ashley said. 

Superintendent Dana Monogue thanked the teachers continuing fully virtual instruction in their handling of the transition taking on new students as classes were rescheduled. She also thanked the elementary school staff for a successful first week.

“They did an exceptional job of welcoming students back into school buildings last week,” Monogue said. 

Special education staff who have been working in-person with students throughout the pandemic deserve thanks and praise, Monogue added, along with Encore staff who’ve adapted to working on carts and moving between classrooms.

Shee said transportation, food service and custodial staff continue to be the backbone of the district. She also thanked building and district administrators for their leadership. 

Monogue said she spoke with several staff members who all reported feeling that reopening has been safe and successful so far. 

Educators are expected to begin getting COVID-19 vaccinations beginning March 1, Monogue said, according to Public Health Madison Dane County.

Each district in the county has been matched with a health care provider for vaccine distribution. MCPASD is working with UW Health.

Monogue sent a letter to the state requesting vaccine distribution be expedited for all school district’s staff. 

Monogue said the district will not prioritize one group over another. When the vaccines are ready every staff member should be able to get the first dose within a few days, she noted.

PHMDC released updated guidance going into effect Feb. 10, which loosens restrictions on indoor and outdoor masked gathering and allows athletic teams to compete within Dane County.

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