Dear editor,

I am confused by the current discussion of opening schools in the fall. Everyone has made the case as to why it is important to get children back to school. Critical time in the classroom was lost when schools were forced to close earlier this year.  In spite of the hard work of teachers, virtual learning was not as effective and students lost valuable skills. In addition, the social skills learned in our schools were also lost as students sat isolated in front of a computer screen.

Yes, we all agree that schools should open. However, I do not think it is just up to our schools to make sure our students are safe. As rates of infection continue to go up in our state and county, the problem seems to be getting worse rather than better. The practices that helped our rates stabilize and start to diminish are known and reported by the medical experts. Wash your hands, practice social distancing and wear a mask – all have been proven to work. Why then does our community not practice these guidelines to help keep the virus from spreading?

Wearing a mask helps protect others as well as the mask wearer. It prevents the virus from spreading through a cough, sneeze or shout. It also sends a message that the mask wearers are being cautious and care about those around them. For schools to re-open safely, we should all be practicing these common sense guidelines. Businesses should do this to set an example for their customers that they care about your health. Government should adhere to these practices to help keep their workers safe and healthy.

This week I talked with a parent who said she makes her daughters wear a mask when they go with her to a store. “It is good practice for them,” she explained. If schools require masks, they will be used to wearing one and it will not interfere with their learning. She is doing her part as a parent to help the schools open. If we all followed her example, schools could re-open in the fall because infection rates would start to decline, students would be able to have face-to-face instruction and with other protective practices, our children would be safe and healthy. 

I urge our community’s businesses, governing bodies and families to do their part to help schools open. Together we can make a difference as we all do our part to help keep our students and teachers safe.

Scott Miles of Wausau

Editor’s note: Wausau Pilot & Review gladly publishes commentary from readers, residents and candidates for local offices. The views of readers and columnists are independent of this newspaper and do not necessarily reflect the views of Wausau Pilot & Review. To submit, email editor@wausaupilotandreview.com or mail to 500 N. Third St., Suite 208-8, Wausau, Wis. 54403.