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Madison Metropolitan School District addresses closure concerns

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Starting Wednesday, the Madison Metropolitan School District will join the rest of Wisconsin, closing its doors until April 6.

As one of the largest school districts in the state, interim superintendent Jane Belmore said Madison will face a few unique challenges as it temporarily shuts down.

"There's technical difficulties, there's student-related instructional need difficulties, there's staff and family issues that we have to think about," she said.

For those reasons, Belmore said Wisconsin schools are not required to provide instruction over the two-and-a-half-week closure period.

"We will however provide books, packets and enrichment opportunities for all students at every grade," she said.

In addition, Belmore said the district will have online resources and is working with Spectrum to provide free WiFi during the closure.

MMSD has been developing a closure plan for the past week, but officials said they hadn't planned to close for this long.

In fact, minutes before Belmore planned to announce the district rearranged its calendar to move up spring break one week, Governor Tony Evers announced his executive order, adding another week of closure.

Belmore said that's why the district is still working out details such as how to support working families in need of childcare.

"Further decisions will be made as we move along and more information becomes available," she said.

Belmore said she and other district officials will meet with the mayor's office to discuss possible solutions to that and other concerns. She said the district is also taking things day by day when it comes to planning for state tests and graduation.

At this point, Belmore said the district's top priority is finding ways to support its 27,000 students and their families though that will require patience and flexibility in the coming days.

"We just have to put our families and our kids right at the center of this and do whatever we can to support them," she said.

As for families that rely on the district for meals, MMSD will off food drop sites across the district. The sites will have free lunch and breakfast for the students that need it, just like MMSD offers during the summer.

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Michelle Alfini

Reporter, WKOW

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