Dear editor,

Our schools are now back in business, as is the Delta variant of COVID.

Hospitalizations and deaths are on the rise, reaching unprecedented numbers for children and individuals NOT suffering from chronic diseases. 

In this backdrop you still have the opportunity to provide the success of a full year of in-person instruction, but have chosen to take the riskiest and potentially more deadly route of making masks optional, not promoting full vaccination or regular testing, and other half-measures of mitigation and staff support.

You have been given the opportunity to prove to the staff and community that you put needs fundamental to the continuous operation of the in-person experience as a priority over political allegiances and vanity. Yet, you succumb to popularity contests and politics of unlimited individual freedom trumping the health of the community while discounting the concerns of parents and teachers about the unmet needs of struggling students.

Perhaps having your name associated with an upscale high school sporting complex satisfies your need for feelgood recognition, but you have not been tasked with rebranding the Wausau School District. Your own surveys attest to the priority of improving educational performance.

Having the WSD associated with the sickness and death of students, parents, teachers and staff will have families fleeing schools in unprecedented numbers. 

Consider the impact of legal action on peoples’ perception of the board after being given so many opportunities to do the right thing.

Divert your attention from the mirror and make the hard calls that give our kids the BEST chance to complete a full year in person while minimizing COVID’s impact on the life and livelihoods of working families and our entire community. 

You still have the opportunity to be graciously recognized for doing everything you could to complete the academic year while improving the achievement gap and prioritizing the expressed needs of parents and teachers, all during a COVID surge!

  •  Restore the mask mandate, all proven mitigation measures, and provide adequate PPE.
  •  Establish vaccination centers through the schools.
  •  Provide hazard pay to all staff. 
  •  Assure health department representation at every meeting when experiencing a COVID surge (according to the level of risk determined by the Marathon County Health Department). This would mean now.
  • Follow the CDC recommendations for quarantine and contact tracing.
  • Expand the district-wide effort to meet the needs of marginalized and struggling students to address the achievement gap.

Bruce Grau of Wausau, retired nurse practitioner

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.