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School Days Begin Again - from The Messenger

August 25, 2022

Teachers and students greeted each other throughout the Fort Dodge Community School District Wednesday to start a new academic year.

"I've been in every building and everywhere I have been the report is the same - teachers and students are excited," said Denise Schares, the district's interim superintendent.

"If Day One was any indication - and I believe it was - we are up for a really great school year," she added. "There was excitement all around."

Schares said she wants this school year to be one of "full normalcy" following the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 academic years were disrupted in multiple ways by the pandemic and the 2021-2022 year was one of recovery, according to Schares.

This year, she said students and teachers will be regrouping around elements key to a good education. Face-to-face interaction is one of those elements.

"We know that isolation was very difficult for many of our students," Schares said.

The beginning of the new school year marked the return of students, teachers and staff members to Cooper Elementary School, 2420 14th Ave. N.. That school was closed for about $4 million worth of renovations during the 2021 Christmas break. The classes held there were moved to the old Riverside Elementary School/Early Learning Center, 733 F St., for the remainder of the last school year.

"We are fully back in Cooper," Schares said. "The spaces there are beautiful."

The district reported a total first day enrollment of 3,607 students.

"It looks like there is stable enrollment, which is good," Schares said.

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