If you watched our school board meeting from Sept. 27, you saw a community divided.

Over the past few months, the issue of masking has become a flashpoint, not just in our community, but across the country. Last year was a difficult year for everyone and we started this school year with a key focus, keep our kids in school.

The district’s Safe Learning Plan, developed using guidance from the CDC, MDH, and Carver County Public Health, was designed with a focus on keeping kids in school, minimizing quarantines, and avoiding any distance model with an emphasis on keeping our staff, teachers and students safe. Our focus is, and always has been, on supporting our students.

The behavior and conduct on display in our boardroom this week was unacceptable. We are called to be role models for our children, to remain civil and show respect for our fellow neighbors. It is healthy for us to disagree and to seek out more information. It is not OK, and not acceptable, to resort to violence or accuse decisionmakers of being Nazis. It will not be tolerated, and I want to personally apologize to anyone in the room, or watching at home, that it happened at all.

The boardroom will be a safe space for all who wish to speak. Protocols will be enforced and those who don’t follow them will be removed.

As a community (Chaska, Chanhassen, Carver, Victoria and East Union), I believe we are better than this. We don’t let our kids act this way and we must hold ourselves to higher standards. Our children are watching us.

The teachers, staff, and administration of our district are working hard to provide excellent education and resources to all our students every day. Great things are happening every day in our schools. I have heard from multiple people that they don’t feel safe after what they witnessed. As a result, we have had to increase police presence.

Our teachers, staff, and administrators need your support. In the wake of this unfortunate display, this is our opportunity to come together and focus on building and supporting our schools, and I invite each of you to do what you can to promote that collective goodwill.

Strong schools, equal a strong community, and we are stronger together.

Jeff Ross, Ph.D., is chair of the Eastern Carver County School Board.

Community Editor

Mark Olson, the Chaska and Chanhassen community editor who has worked in Carver County for 20 years, makes any excuse to write about local history. In his spare time, Mark enjoys perusing old books, watching blockbusters and taking Midwest road trips.