Dear editor,

On Nov. 2, Wausau school students will be heading back into the classroom wearing masks and social distancing. On Oct. 15, Wisconsinites set another record with 3,747 new Covid-19 cases. Meanwhile, Wisconsin hospitals have 84 percent of the beds in use, according to the DHS on Oct. 15, 2020. In north central Wisconsin, 86 percent of their hospital beds are in use. Kids are going back to the classroom soon and exposure will happen. Parents, teachers and grandparents will be infected. With Covid-19 cases continuing to climb in Wisconsin, more beds will be needed. Where will these patients go? Who will care for this large influx of patients?

In August, Wausau School Board made the decision NOT to return to the classrooms, but to return virtual. Some Wausau parents objected and formed a Facebook Group called Parents for Wausau Schools ReOPENING. This group decided to place the blame on school board president Tricia Zunker. They forget the board has multiple members and they all vote before reaching an agreement. The decision to remain closed was not the result of one person. The decision was made with the best interest of the students, teachers, staff and their families in mind. They recognize Covid-19 as a health pandemic that endangers health. They chose to protect health and lives. With Covid-19 cases continuing to climb in Wisconsin more beds will be needed. I know this was not an easy choice for the school board, but why risk the health and lives of others?

On Oct. 15, Medford Schools announced that 52 students and seven staff members from the elementary school have been placed on quarantine. On Sept. 22, Abbotsford moved grades 9-12 to virtual learning, because of the “drastic uptick of positive COVID-19 cases among students.” Currently, a Wausau football team and coaches are in quarantine. Sadly, schools have become a rollercoaster ride for the students. Either they are in school, home-quarantined or getting tested for Covid-19. 

Covid-19 is highly contagious, it kills and many of those who survive are left with lung and heart disease. I follow a Facebook Group called Covid-19 Survivors & Support. These are people who have or had Covid-19. To my surprise, many of them are young. The members are parents of children, young adults, middle-age people and a few elder members. They share not only what they experienced, but their ongoing problems. Currently, they are talking about REINFECTION. Yes, they are getting Covid-19 again! They speak of excessive hair loss, piles of pill bottles, loss of taste and smell that does not return, unexplained rashes and much more. These symptoms are occurring months out from the infection.

In addition, our hospitals are full. Our healthcare workers are stressed and there isn’t enough medical staff to provide adequate care for the patients during this pandemic. Healthcare workers want to provide quality care, preserve health and save lives. Right now, with the challenges they are facing, they are discovering this difficult. “On Tuesday, Wisconsin set a new record with 34 reported coronavirus deaths. Nurses in the state say they’re worried the public doesn’t support them or take the Covid-19 danger seriously.” How many Covid-19 deaths are too many before Wisconsinites take this pandemic seriously? How far will this go before we breakdown our healthcare system?

As Nov. 2, approaches I hope that parents will reconsider what “they want” and consider what is best for the students, teachers and staff within the Wausau School District. These high cases numbers are NOT going down magically within the next few weeks. They will go higher because Wisconsin is not taking the coronavirus seriously.

Wausau schools re-opening at this time will only increase patient population in our hospitals. Some of these patients will be sent elsewhere, because our local hospitals don’t have the capability of treating this immense influx of patients. Teachers will get Covid-19. Students will get Covid-19. Students will be sent home to quarantine. Whole families will get sick. Our healthcare workers will also get Covid-19. Sadly someone will die.

Note: After I wrote this, I saw a Facebook post regarding a Wausau child. It was a picture of a young boy named Abel. Sadly it showed Abel on a ventilator. The parent wrote, “He was then taken to Marshfield on the Spirit helicopter, because he lost consciousness.” Dad goes on to say, “When we got to the hospital in Marshfield, we learned that Abel has COVID.” “He likely fell and hit his head, because of a seizure brought on by COVID.”

Wausau parents’ children do get coronavirus. Children are put on ventilators. Covid-19 doesn’t care who you are.

Ask yourself what is more important AT THIS TIME? You have the choice of sending your children back to the classroom or continue virtual learning at home. Children might need to repeat a year of education, but they will survive “the virus.” My young school-aged grandchildren refer to Covid-19 as “the virus.” Kids are smarter than we think!

Mary Hoefs of Abbotsford

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.