MADISON, Wis.—  Concerns of COVID-19 are giving students in Madison, Wisconsin an extended winter break.

In a virtual press conference Friday, the Madison Metropolitan School District announced a return to virtual learning due to a surge in COVID-19 cases.

“This is a significant situation for all of us and we know the difficulties. This is extremely difficult when we make decisions like this for our families so we don’t make these decisions lightly,” MMSD superintendent, Dr. Carlton D. Jenkins said.

The extra week will allow time for students and teachers to get extra testing needed to return. It will also allow students time to pick up tablets needed for virtual school.

“It’s very aspirational that we will be back in school Monday given that there is nothing catastrophic that takes place. This is all day-by-day. We should be back moving and being constantly back in school for the remainder of the semester,” Jenkins said.

The hope is to return to school Jan. 10. However it will all depend on staffing levels, transmission levels and a handful of other factors.

“It is key that safe return for students and staff is dependent on our mitigation strategies  And in MMSD that includes masking, distancing, a testing program, all of those things play into a safe return,” Dr. Gregory Demuri, who works at UW Health, said.

A board meeting on Jan. 6 will determine if students and staff will return in person on the Jan. 10. For now, the hope is to keep students and staff safe and healthy while continuing education following the holiday break.

To recap, Madison schools will not be in session Jan. 3 - 5. Then they will move to virtual learning the Jan. 6 - 7. A decision will be made on the 6th if in person learning will start on Jan. 10.