Petition of Support for Wausau School District Administration to Fully Open School

We, the undersigned, would like to thank the Wausau School Board, Superintendent and Administration for their tireless efforts to meet the needs of our community during this unprecedented and challenging time. We also thank you for allowing us, the community, families and taxpayers, to have a voice in the determination of school plans for the fall. Please know that you have our full support in allowing our students to return to in-person classes in the fall of 2020. The family survey that was emailed on June 12th was thorough and the response from our community was a clear and overwhelming majority at 65.7% of families with the desire and need to have our students in a face-to-face educational environment, 5 days per week. An additional 15.7% respondents reported that they would be able to make this model work, resulting in a total of 81.4% of families in support or able to navigate an education model of 5 days per week of face-to-face instruction. The complex academic, socioeconomic and mental health needs for students and families overwhelmingly require in-person education.
 
We understand that this leaves 18.6% of families uncomfortable or unable to return to this learning model for various reasons. These are complex issues and we are sensitive to their needs as well. We are thankful that WSD has established and expanded Wausau Area Virtual Education to provide for the needs of these families that may prefer or require a virtual model. WAVE staff is already prepared to teach a virtual curriculum to students and families who desire it. We would hope that the staff that are unable or uncomfortable to return to in person instruction would be happy to support the increased needs at WAVE.
 
We are aware that we remain in very challenging times throughout the nation. It must be noted, however, that COVID-19 primarily impacts those over the age of 65 and has virtually zero impact on those below the age of 20. According to the CDC, as of July 15, 2020, in the entire State of Wisconsin, there have been ZERO deaths under the age of 20 from COVID-19. This is also confirmed on the Wisconsin DHS website. We are also incredibly fortunate to be in an area with excellent hospital capacity. According to the Wisconsin Hospital Association (https://www.wha.org/COVID19Update), as of July 20, 2020, in Marathon County and the 11 counties surrounding our area, in the16 hospitals that serve those counties, in total, there are currently nine (9) COVID-19 patients and two (2) on ventilators. We are thankful that our healthcare system has never been at risk for being overwhelmed by COVID-19.
 
As you are well aware, there was a significant percentage of students who lost all contact with their teachers when the schools closed their doors in March. In addition to the tremendous loss of academic progress, we all know of the incredible increased risks for unreported abuse and mental health decline for our students if they continue to remain at home. (UW-Madison link)
 
In light of this data, we are compelled to reiterate to the Wausau School District Board and Administration that we fully support bringing our students back to the classroom for 5 days per week, face to face instruction. Thank you for all that you continue to do for our students, families and community.  We appreciate you.
 
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References:
 
 
 
 
 
UW Madison Study on Youth Health and Survey results: https://www.wiaawi.org/Portals/0/PDF/Health/Covid/SchoolClosureImpact_McGuine.pdf

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