By Shereen Siewert

The Wausau School Board will hold a special meeting Monday to discuss COVID-19 mitigation strategies, according to a notice sent Friday afternoon.

Board President Pat McKee said previously that the next meeting of the Board Education and Operations Committee on Sept. 27 would take up these issues. The timeline for that discussion has accelerated, however, and the board will meet at 5 p.m. Monday, Sept. 20 at the John Muir Middle School Auditorium, 1400 Stewart Ave., Wausau.

In agenda materials, school officials are calling their strategy a collaborative effort with D.C. Everest and the Marathon County Health Department, but they caution that the plans between districts will not be identical “due to differences in current practice, philosophy and district structures.”

Along with mitigation efforts, the board will discuss contact tracing and quarantines, as well as a virtual elementary option.

But so far, school administrators are continuing to recommend leaving contact tracing and decisions about quarantines to the Marathon County Health Department, whose representatives have repeatedly said they are understaffed and unable to keep up with contact tracing in a timely manner.

The Wausau School District on Friday reported 60 active cases of COVID-19 In the district with 374 total staff and students quarantined. The largest infection numbers are at Wausau West, followed by Wausau East and John Marshall Elementary School.

Districts across the state are grappling with mitigation efforts, including mask policies, as the Delta variant of COVID-19 continues to spread. The Fort Atkinson School Board approved a mask mandate for all students on a 4 to 1 vote Thursday night after the death of a 13-year-old middle school student whose mother said died after contracting COVID-19. Prior to the child’s death, masking was optional in the district.

See the full agenda packet here.