When Will In-Person Learning Be Possible?
By Zella Milfred
This week marks the very beginning of a virtual second quarter. When the school year began nearly two months ago, students held on to hope that we’d be back to La Follette by this time. But as COVID-19 cases surge in Wisconsin, our classes will stay confined to Zoom, and sporting events, dances, and plays will remain on-hold. How did MMSD make this decision, and when will we get back to in-person school?
While making the decision to stay virtual, MMSD considered many different factors. They worked closely with Public Health Madison & Dane County to assess the status of COVID-19 in our community. This agency currently recommends that high schools remain virtual until fewer than 20 people a day in Dane County, on average, test positive for the disease over two weeks. As of mid-October, Dane County had a two-week average of 133 positive cases per day. This is seven times higher than what we’d need to consider reopening MMSD high schools.
Our school district’s spokesman, Timothy Lemonds, calls these decisions “agonizing,” because the district wants us learning in our school buildings, but the safety of all students and staff is the bottom line.
MMSD also listens to input from the teachers union, UW-Madison and surrounding school districts. Some schools elsewhere that began with in-person classes have had to shut down due to outbreaks. “We want to make sure that when we open, we’re going to stay open,” Lemonds said.
This disease continues to evolve, so a lot is unknown. It’s possible that treatments and a vaccine could become available soon. Lemonds, along with Principal Larosa, hopes we are back by January. Larosa wants LHS students to know that whether we are virtual or in-person, we are all still connected, and that we can’t let the challenges of this pandemic define us. “We were much more before this and we will still be much more after this,” he said. Lemonds thanks all students for their resilience during this time. “The strength they have shown through all of this and their ability to adapt and still engage and learn has been nothing but impressive.”