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Madison school district develops childcare plan for school year

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Madison's school district is creating a program to offer childcare this fall to at least 1,000 students most in need of services.

Madison Metropolitan School District has said it plans to go fully virtual in fall to start the 2020-21 school year.

At a school board meeting Monday night, the board heard plans on a way district officials want to support families who don't have childcare options.

The plan, based off summer programming policies, serves about 1,000 elementary students at 16 Madison School & Community Recreation (MSCR) sites or elementary schools. It limits each site to 60 students, keeping students in smaller groups of 15.

"MSCR Cares staff will be there to support kids with technology. Hopefully keeping them focused if that needs to be the case. So, we're trying to provide what parents would provide if their kids were at home, involved in virtual learning, we're trying to provide that in a childcare setting."

The "MSCR Cares" program is designed to run from the start of school on September 8 until October 30 and will be re-evaluated every quarter.

The district will begin registration by prioritizing families with greater financial need, children of essential workers and children of in-person teachers or MSCR Cares staff.

The program reassigns 150 MMSD staff to work with childcare services, following public health guidelines. 240 total staff members will be needed to staff MSCR Cares.

Students and staff will go through a daily screening process and those with symptoms will be isolated.

MMSD is also working with community partners to help find childcare for an additional 1,000 elementary students.

Wisconsin Youth Company is one of the organizations that will offer childcare through the program.

"We're really grateful for the partnership with Madison schools and to be able to continue to serve children during the school year," said executive director Rebecca Carlin.

The organization is taking its traditional summer camp and after school program models and adapting them for the school day. Staff members have already found the best ways to operate childcare services during the pandemic.

"We're all learning together how to run summer camp in the middle of the global pandemic, and really what we changed were a lot of health and safety protocols that were added, keeping the same group of children together, or the same group of campers with their counselor all day," she said. "We cancelled field trips and swimming trips. But we've been able to do a lot of really fun projects at camp, a lot of outside play, a lot of waterplay, which are really essential to summer camp."

Registration for the MSCR Cares program begins Wednesday. It will cost $150 a week and MSCR has payment options for low income families.

Jennifer Kliese

Weekend Anchor and Reporter, 27 News

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