Wausau Schools will open virtually this fall

Wausau East High School

Wausau East High School

Wausau students will be starting the fall learning from home under a plan adopted by the Wausau School District Monday Night.

The school board voted 6-3 to adopt the all virtual learning plan after staff told the board they are 100% technologically ready to handle virtual learning. Nearly 800 people listened in on the virtual meeting, according to participants counts projected on the school district meeting room’s monitors.

The board also decided to get updates monthly on the situation with COVID-19 so that they can adjust the plan if need be. Cases have been on the rise in Marathon County, with 499 cases total in the county and four deaths. More than 50 cases were reported between Friday and Monday, according to Marathon County Health Department statistics.

Schools adopted virtual learning in response to the pandemic last spring, after state order in March shut down businesses and schools. But some have been calling for schools to return to in person learning this fall.

The board chose the virtual option out of three plans — others included 100% in person classroom instruction with adjustments for social distancing and mask wearing, and a hybrid model which would have seen groups of students attend school on opposite days to reduce the number of students at school at any given time.

School Board President Tricia Zunker said initially she wanted to review the policy quarterly to give teacher, students and parents some stability so they know what to expect for a given time period, but board member Lance Trollop said he favored more regular updates to adapt the ever-changing COVID-19 situation.

Trollop was one of three to vote against the plan. Trollop told the board he would have voted against any of the plans presented because none of them included enough information about how they would be implemented.