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,

Last year, was a remarkable year for schools, teacher unions, school boards, and parents. Covid-19 brought out the best and worst in our community. There was no vaccine and no real known treatment for the virus because it was so new. In the beginning, the CDC directed the pandemic with it’s best operating procedures. The deadly virus closed workplaces, sent many employees home to work, and laid off others. New terms was developed to classify employees as “essential”  and “non-essential” workers. Essential workers basically kept working without any time off.  While non-essential workers were told to stay at home and collect unemployment, a process which was overwhelmed by the sheer number of applicants. 

From the beginning, there was confusion with mask wearing and gatherings. First, we were told by the Surgeon General, don’t wear masks you don’t need them against a deadly airborne virus that you breathe in. Hmmmmm. The governors of many states put in mask mandates, Wisconsin was no different. Groups formed to protest mask wearing. Of course, the Republicans sued Governor Tony Evers for a mask mandate that kept people safe. They won once with the Wi Supreme Court. Thank goodness Gov. Evers was stubborn and kept his pandemic mask mandate in force to save some of us. Zoom meetings were the popular way to gather from the safety of your home. While others paid no heed and gathered as normal. 

This leads us to the Wausau School District. Many school boards grappled with virtual learning versus in person classroom learning versus a hybrid of the two. Covid-19 was increasing. There was no good data to prove one way or another was better. When one child or teacher came down with the virus, all the students and families had to isolate at home for 14 days. This was the CDC directive. Some parents were for in person classroom teaching, and were convinced that if a few children and teachers came down with the virus and died it would be for the good of all students. Parents held very verbal protests outside school board members homes. The members’ families became afraid because some board members have young children present. Threats were made about the integrity of this election, April 6th, by the Marathon County Clerk on Creishers Facebook group. Comments about using face masks to strangle Wausau School Board  members were not kind and did not present these Facebook people as good role models to our children. It was very ugly. The Wausau School District courageously started the year with all virtual and revisited this decision throughout the year, safely opening up classes. The board looked at the science  and the facts to safely keep children and teachers from getting the deadly virus.  I applaud them.

Board member, President Tricia Zunker is a remarkable leader of the Wausau District. She has helped families find food and basic needs. She has lead the charge to remove indigenous mascots from schools in Wisconsin. She is a Dean of two law schools and teaches adults law. She has an enormous energy, listens to people, very professional, and treats all people with respect and thoughtfulness. She is very current and up to date on the many facets of the school district to bring us into the future needs of the community. 

Dr. Kay Gruling has grown up here and practiced in this area all her life. She is by profession a family doctor and very active in politics. She has worked with various programs for kids throughout the years.  Her knowledge includes problems facing modern school districts and has many solutions to the problems. She acts with professionalism and holds all people in high regards. When others speak, she really listens.

Nic Bisgrove cares about others and the education children receive.  His past childhood of growing up here and now living here helps his knowledge base. He has a child of his own. He thinks creatively and looks for new options outside the box. He is a newcomer to politics. 

Incumbent Patrick McKee is running for re-election. He maybe a more conservative board member but has become disenchanted by the vitriol in the local debate by the parent group which is led by Creisher, Nickolai, and Vandenberg. He is pro education and very well informed.

Finally, the students and parents should be commended for trying to learn, teach, and work through these challenging times. We all respect teachers more for the careers they hold. Please give Zunker, Gruling, Bisgrove, and McKee a chance to let the Wausau School District shine when you go to the polls.

Sincerely,
Terry Ugoretz, Wausau