Dodger Students and Parents,

It has been such an incredible experience welcoming our students back into our halls this week. I have had the privilege of visiting classrooms in all of our schools to bear witness to the incredible commitment of our students, faculty and staff. I am pleased to report that safety compliance and learning practices are off to an excellent start, thanks to the collective efforts and responsible behaviors of all Dodgers. Nevertheless, we must continue to be vigilant and diligent to ensure that in-person learning can continue.  I’m writing today to share with you some important updates and reminders that build upon the message I shared in last week’s Welcome Back Letter. Please consider the following important pieces of information as we head into a well-deserved weekend:

We are all mutually responsible for public health and school operations.

This week, some schools in nearby districts have experienced students testing positive for COVID-19. We must presume that this will occur in Madison at some point. Accordingly, it is critically important that every member of our school community recognize that we are all in this together; your actions directly impact our collective safety and our ability to keep schools open. Accordingly, please model safe behavior and encourage others to remain diligent in the following responsibilities:

  • Complete the health screening every day. Even when a student is not attending school, this proactive behavior increases the chances of reducing transmission. While all in-person students are required to complete the district’s form on school days (even when they are on a remote day), all parents and students should screen for COVID-related symptoms everyday, including weekends. If symptoms appear, you should isolate and seek medical consultation as soon as possible. 

  • Avoid high-risk gatherings. If you find yourself in an environment where appropriate safety measures are not in place, especially if people are talking loudly while close to each other or sharing common objects or food, find a reason to leave. When planning social activities, be bold in establishing expectations for compliance with health and safety measures. Remember that mask-wearing, hand hygiene and distancing are key interventions that help to mitigate the risk of transmission.

  • Consider your mask an item of clothing and PPE. Masks should fit well and be washed after each use. Parents and students should take time to select a mask that suits their personal fashion or style. By doing so, mask wearing may become a more normal part of your dress and self expression. Remember, that all clothing items, including masks, should be considered contaminated after use. You should not touch the mask or clothing of another individual after it has been worn. For more information, please see the district’s mask wearing guidance

Do not stigmatize or blame individuals who have tested positive or have been exposed to COVID-19.

If you are aware that someone has been exposed to or has contracted COVID-19, show compassion no matter the circumstances. Our collective safety depends on individuals self-reporting their conditions and complying with contact tracing efforts. While we encourage safe behavior, we must also show respect for individuals that comply with self-reporting, contact tracing, isolation, and quarantining. For more detailed information on how stigma hurts public health and individual wellness, please see this guidance from the World Health Organization.

Continue to engage faculty and principals through concise and encouraging communications.

Our faculty are doing a wonderful job of  implementing new practices in an unnavigated environment. While the learning experience will evolve and improve, some difficulties and/or sources of confusion may yet emerge. Please support our faculty and school leaders by exercising patience and by communicating in a matter that is productive and to-the-point. 

Temporary, full-time remote learning remains a potentially-necessary action.  

Inadequate staffing levels, health and safety concerns, excessive classroom temperatures, and/or COVID cases may yet emerge at any time. Parents and students must be prepared for the district to move to full-time remote instruction on a temporary basis if any of these anticipated circumstances threaten our ability to operate our schools safely. This must not be considered a set-back, but a necessary and temporary solution. 

Never forget. 

Nineteen years ago, America suffered a terrible tragedy. While we are coping with our own crisis in 2020, please take a moment today to honor those lives losts and the heroic actions of so many first responders and innocent victims at the World Trade Center, Pentagon and on Flight 93 in 2001.

Thank you for your ongoing partnership in protecting the health of our community and enabling our reopening to in-person learning. I look forward to seeing all of you soon.