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Fort Dodge schools are prepared for unique year

Education is essential for our kids in this community. It is the great equalizer that allows all children, regardless of race or socioeconomic status, an opportunity for a better future. This core belief that I have has been on full display since March.

As a school district, we are trying to balance protecting students from potential exposure to COVID-19 and ensuring their academic, social, and emotional needs are being met. With all that being said, it is time for kids to come back to school.

Never before in education have those words been so controversial, or brought such mixed emotions from all factions of our society. To be clear, it is understandable why people are anxious or worried. There are a lot of unknowns with this pandemic. Our families and staff may, rightfully so, be worried about potentially exposing a child to this virus, or having the virus be brought home to their loved ones. These are all very real emotions that should not be disregarded.

This will be a year that our system will need grace and understanding. As a community, we have already seen how quickly data can change, thus impacting decisions. We will continue to be as transparent as possible in our decision making process. I would encourage you to continue to communicate with your teachers, principals, and district level leadership about your child’s needs and how we can best serve him or her. This year will be an armchair quarterback’s dream. It will be easy to sit back and critique every decision and post your opinions on social media for your friends to see. It will also be a very unproductive method of building the supportive community we strive to have our kids experience everyday.

I’m proud of our staff. Their dedication, love, and enthusiasm for our kids is second to none. I’m proud of the support we continue to receive from our community. Our schools are only as strong as our community, and our community is only as strong as our schools. As we continue to make decisions that balance the potential for exposure with meeting the academic, social, and emotional needs of the future generation of our community, I can say with confidence that I’m excited for kids to come back to school.

Dr. Jesse Ulrich is the superintendent of Fort Dodge Community School District.

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