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“I miss school,” my third grader Hans told me.

My first thought was: “I miss school, too!”

It had been six weeks of remote learning at home during the pandemic. We, like so many families, were balancing working full-time with teaching three elementary school children.

Our amazing teachers had pivoted to sending us lessons — even for art and PE — over email. As a fourth generation educator myself, I wasn’t surprised by the devotion and skill they showed. That’s how they always are — they always go the extra mile.

We simply couldn’t keep up! We were juggling five different schedules, three different curricula, staggered online meetings, and our kids desperately missing everyone and everything at school. I heard more than once that the spaghetti at school is the best.

What we have learned during this pandemic is that our schools are even more devoted than we imagined. And they do much more than educate our children. They are foundations in our communities. Our schools feed our kids, care for those with disabilities, foster emotional wellbeing, provide nursing, build relationships across ages, add music and art to our lives, and sponsor recreation for us all. They are the heart of so many communities.

Our top notch school system has always been a hallmark in Iowa. It is key to keeping our young adults here, especially in our rural communities. It is also key to attracting new families and economic opportunities to our state.

That success is because of the dedication of each para, teacher, bus driver, janitor, cook, nurse, counselor, librarian, principal, and superintendent. We are so thankful for each of them. But our appreciation isn’t enough. For the last decade, we have asked them to do more with less.

During a crisis, our priorities need to guide our decisions. Schools must be at the top of that list. It’s time we give schools the resources they need.

School may be out for the summer, but my family knows that our schools never really take a break. In the meantime, at our house, I am in favor of more recess.

Carissa Froyum is a University of Northern Iowa educator who lives in Denver. She is also running for Iowa House District 63, a seat that covers all of Bremer County and the northern portion of Black Hawk County outside of Waterloo and Cedar Falls.