MMSD return to in-person learning draws mixed reactions

Amid vaccine delays and the spread of new COVID-19 variants, parents and teachers have mixed reactions to the announcement that Madison Metropolitan School District will resume in-person instruction for grades 4k-2 starting this week. Our Courtney Degen spoke with several parents and teachers for their reactions, and heard many concerns on the complex issue.

Early Dane County data shows racial disparity in COVID vaccines

Recent data from Public Health Madison & Dane County shows racial disparities for those that have received the COVID-19 vaccine so far, but health experts say this is likely reflective of the state’s limited eligible populations and that organizations across Dane County are working to achieve racial equity.

Nikki Conklin looks to bring diverse community voices to the table in District 9

“I believe that District 9 needs a new, young, fresh community leader at the table. All too often, Black, Indigenous people of color are the topic at the table but yet, we’re never at the table,” said District 9 Common Council candidate Nikki Conklin. “And so now, I really feel like this is my chance to shine and break all the odds and be at the table and actually bring the voices of the community to the table so we can be heard.”

Council candidate Doug Hyant: communication is top priority

Doug Hyant, the current Chief of Staff for State Representative Mark Spreitzer, is running for Alder of Madison’s Ninth District, representing the far west side. With past experience in electoral politics, and a sharp focus on communication, Hyant says that he is qualified and ready to listen to and represent the voices of district nine. 

University neighbors welcome students back to town, despite COVID spread

Following a month-long break, UW-Madison students started a new semester on the 25th of January, with a mix of online and in-person classes. The University established new protocols for COVID-19 testing and tracking this semester, including a new app and guidelines for students to get tested twice a week. These safety measures are aimed not only at keeping students safe throughout the spring semester, but also to avoid a rapid spike in cases, similar to what happened at the beginning of the fall semester. While Dane County Executive Joe Parisi would rather see all instruction happening virtually, UW's neighbors don't mind students being back.

Amato seeks to leverage long history in Madison in Common Council race

At the beginning of 2020, Nino Amato had no intention of running for common council. After a successful career in the private sector, in which he held roles such as the CEO of the Coalition of Wisconsin Aging and Health Groups, the Public Policy Chair for United Against Hate, as well as the President of the Madison Equal Commission- to name a few- Amato planned on stepping back, focusing on teaching, and taking time to be with his family. 

However, after seeing crime and racial disparities rise this summer, he decided to run for alderperson in Madison’s 9th District. 

Neighborhood leaders weigh in on proposal to shrink Common Council, convert to full-time alders

The Madison Common Council is debating whether to add a referendum to the spring ballot that would ask whether the council should undergo structural changes by making alder positions “full-time,” increasing their salary, decreasing the number of alders and implementing term limits. Our Courtney Degen spoke with leaders of several neighborhood associations for their reactions.

Education for children without homes is hard enough; COVID is making it worse

Access to quality education is at risk for housing-insecure children in Madison as their families face the economic blowback of COVID-19 and the end of an eviction moratorium looms. 

Governor Evers announced a $30 million CARES Act fund on Sept. 3, which directs $25 million towards the Wisconsin Rental Assistance Program. The next day, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced a national eviction moratorium in an effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. However, come Dec. 31, families will be to pay their accumulated rent. If they are unable to do so, they will be evicted, putting children’s access to quality remote learning at risk.