As a visiting business owner who has been working in Fountain Hills for some time and who also has many friends here in town, I feel a special attachment to the community.

With the summer ending, kids are getting ready to go back to school on Aug. 10, all while the hot topic of in-person learning is ever present. The past year saw education that “was a bit all over the place” (Ryan Winslett, 2021), filled with remote learning, mask mandates, split classes, etc. The kids were supposed to be the priority. So, I, like the community’s parents, are pleased to have our town’s children return to the classroom environment.

By complying with all the public health guidelines, the kids can remain the priority and their safety can be valued through returning to school. With these guidelines in place, tension with the in-learning aspect of school is still being loudly expressed. Keeping the kids in mind and ensuring that they achieve a valuable education is best achieved through classroom teaching.

Remote learning does not provide an equal opportunity for all students. Kids at the bottom of the rung, without quality computers, internet or quiet study spaces, are the ones that are constantly being hurt. Teachers have an obligation to help each student achieve success, and this happens with face-to-face interactions. This happens when the kids can have that one constant, safe place outside of home to go learn and interact with fellow peers.

The FHUSD superintendent has expressed her readiness to tackle this challenge and give the kids the quality education they deserve. As Principal Shelly Jensen of McDowell Mountain Elementary School says, “A school is not a school without kids.” We are fortunate that the FHUSD board and teachers agree. Let the learning begin, the kids deserve it!