Last spring, the pandemic forced schools to close. For nearly a year, the Madison Metropolitan School District has been holding classes online. But that pivot to virtual education was particularly difficult for some parents of younger students.
Earlier today, as Madison’s kindergarteners were wrapping up their first day of in-person school, WORT spoke with parents and family of students at Franklin Elementary as they waited to pick up their children.
Jane Nevinskiy says that virtual learning had been particularly difficult for her brother Lucas. She was joined earlier today by her mother Irena, who explains that their family only speaks Russian at home.
“Our kid, he doesn’t know English that well, so for us it was a big struggle to help him learn English at home since we’re a Russian-speaking family,” Jane says. “So we’re a little bit excited because he gets to get the language experience and get the friends who speak English.”
“I encourage kids to speak only Russian at home because we want to raise bilingual kids,” says Irena, Jane and Lucas’ mother. “So I don’t want my older kids to speak only English with him… It’s his first chance for him to learn English. He’s taken the english as a S=second language (ESL) class with teachers, but it’s not the same like an in-person education.”
As part of their planned return to classrooms, MMSD is using a phased approach over the next few weeks. Today, the reopening kicked off with the District’s kindergarteners, who will be followed by first and second graders next Tuesday.
Plans for older students have yet to be finalized.
Sylvia Reimann is a third-grader at Randall Elementary School. She accompanied her father Jeff to pick up her younger sister Mira earlier today. Mira declined to comment on her first day in the classroom, but Sylvia expressed reserved optimism about the District’s future plans.
“I mean the vaccine is out and there’s lots of places that are giving it,” she says. “They’re saying I may be going back in like April.”
Jeff Reimann says that he’s excited for the return to in-person education.
“Mira went to 4k and that got cut short and then we weren’t totally sure about online Kindergarten,” he says. “We could have held her back, but we decided to send her and see how it went and it went great. But we’re excited to have a couple of months where she’s actually in school.”
Matt Heggy says that both he and his signficant other work full time, so balancing their jobs and their children’s education has been a struggle over the past year.
“I mean we’re both working full-time and it’s been very hard to keep everything going. So it’s a very welcome relief,” Heggy says.