Wausau Pilot & Review

Wausau School Board members on Monday voted 5-4 to move forward with a reopening plan, putting students back in the classroom on Nov. 2.

During a Sept. 26 special meeting at Wausau West High School, a divided board approved the plan to bring elementary school students back to the classroom, while implementing a blended approach for secondary schools. But the board agreed to review progress on the plan during another special meeting. That meeting was held on Monday.

Wausau, the largest community in Marathon County, was the only school district to begin school in a fully virtual manner this fall. The decision prompted hundreds of students to transfer to other districts.

Wausau School Superintendent Keith Hilts said he concluded, after reviewing data and speaking with health officials, that sending students to school can be safe if proper mitigation strategies are used.

Under the plan, elementary school students will return to school and will be taught in cohorts, keeping 6 feet of distance from one another. Separate staff will be identified to teach students whose parents opt for the virtual option.

Secondary schools will return to school split into two alternating cohorts.

Mask use will be mandatory and will be enforced, Hilts said last month. A fully virtual option is still available for students uncomfortable with returning to the classroom.