Dear editor,

How is Wausau, the Wausau School District, Wausau’s Public Health and Safety Committee, and the Marathon County Health Department preparing for the return of kids to the classroom in the fall in terms of mitigating the spread of COVID, particularly kids from homes of poor and working class families?

Sick kids create stress and a burden for working parents. Kids are susceptible to COVID, particularly some variants. Most likely, all children will be cleared to receive the vaccination. We continue to see encouraging results as more people become vaccinated.

Other cities have initiated a program to vaccinate school children by establishing their schools as centers where the vaccinations are administered. Please consider joining Superintendent Austin Beutner of Los Angeles Unified School District, Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City, Superintendent Dr. Lewis of the New Orleans Public Schools, and Superintendent Anthony Hamlet of Pittsburgh Public Schools by making schools the place where students and their families are vaccinated.

We must be forward thinking and create accessible permanent vaccination clinics that are open through the summer for sustained hours. We must ensure that health and well-being of the most affected and dispossessed by the pandemic are prioritized. The solution to dismal vaccination numbers within our communities with higher infection and death rates is to address this crisis with concrete, expeditious and permanent solutions.

The data is clear. The fundamental social inequalities of economic disadvantage, racial discrimination and spatial exclusion have dismantled many of our community’s capacity. The families in our highly segregated, disenfranchised neighborhoods are exposed to prolonged social stress. These social factors result in the health disparities, exacerbated during this pandemic. We have a special obligation to the students of our front-line essential workers, those in occupations who we depend on to keep our city going.

We owe it to the students whose parents have cleaned and maintained buildings, prepared food, stocked stores, provided healthcare support to our vulnerable family/community members, worked in our warehouses, and maintained our transportation sector. They continue to endure the biggest brunt of this burden. If we are to make Wausau a healthier and safer city, we must lift the load by mitigating preventable problems that directly impact academic achievement, parental involvement and coping strategies of poor and working class families.

Please consider the model other cities are adopting. Positioning a vaccination center in Lincoln and/or Grant School(s) could provide a significant first step in providing such anticipatory guidance and leadership to promote the health and prosperity of our Wausau community, particularly for those who continue to be impacted the most.

Respectfully,

Bruce Grau of Wausau, Wausau Poor People’s Campaign, in collaboration with the Illinois Poor People’s Campaign

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.