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.

Dear editor,

The Wausau School District put out a video message but I have several concerns.

I am thankful for the assertion that virtual school this fall will look differently than it did this spring, because my experience this spring was nothing short of horrendous. However, I have very real concerns about the feasibility of virtual school and families of single parents and families with 2 working parents.

I also have significant concerns about the minority and disadvantaged families in our district as those students are not especially high risk from not being in the classroom. How is a working mother to elementary students supposed to have their children in a live virtual classroom? And if said mother takes a leave of absence in order to facilitate a live virtual classroom, however she to pay her bills, put food on the table, be mentally stable for her children?

Appleton Police Department released data last week comparing the first 6 months of 2019 to the first 6 months of 2020, and reported the call volume significantly increased for youth expressing suicidal thoughts, ideation, and suicidal behavior. In fact, there were 6 attempted suicides in 2020 compared to the only one in 2019.

Now, I appreciate that those numbers are small, but when you are considering a community in size very similar to our own, these are 6 deaths that could have been prevented. Especially considering that we have had 0 deaths in our youth from this virus. For my family, virtual at home school is NOT AN OPTION. My option is full time day care or full time school. And I do not think it fair to put our day care providers in the position of acting as licensed teachers.

Not to mention, it is not only plausible, but probable that they will have students from multiple different schools within one classroom. And if not taught during daytime hours, are parents then expected to teach their children AFTER school? When a parent struggles just to get supper, baths, and prep for the next day in on a regular day?

The data: Studies have shown that child to child transmission is very rare, and almost exclusively it is adult to child transmission. ACE2 receptors are the entryway for COVID and ACE2 receptor nasal gene expression is LOWEST is 4-9 year olds and higher in 10-17 year olds, but still lower than in adults. Furthermore, a systematic review of 31 household clusters in the USA, China, Singapore, Vietname, and South Korea showed that <10% of the household the index case was a child versus 54% in influenza A. I’m happy to share much more data on how our children are NOT the primary vectors for this disease!

If you look at YMCA emergency care ages 1-14, up to 40,000 children were enrolled in 1100 sites. NO CHILDREN and only a few staff and parents tested positive, no records of more than 1 case at ANY site. My suggestions for getting kids back to school: Move classes outdoors. On days when the sun is shining, we can utilize our fields and outdoor spaces for classrooms. Utilize handwashing stations and universal masking throughout the school. Utilize acrylic or like barriers to separate students from teachers. Limit teacher to teacher contact.

We need to get our children back to school, ESPECIALLY the elementary school children who are the LOWEST risk of disease and at the HIGHEST risk in falling behind which will have dramatic implications for years to come.

Kelly Brandt, Acute Care Nurse Practitioner