“We are excited to see our kids.” Superintendent Matt Underwood says SISD is ready to roll.


By SARA VANDEN BERGE

Figuring out the safest and best way to get students and teachers back into the classroom this fall was no easy task.

But on Wednesday, Aug. 19, a new school year will officially get underway at Stephenville ISD and Superintendent Matt Underwood is ready.

“We are excited to see our kids,” Underwood told Beneath the Surface News, adding that about 20 percent of the district’s student body has opted to start school virtually.

Underwood said he has been shocked by numbers across the state which show that some school districts have as much as 60 percent choosing to study virtually rather than returning to the classroom.

“It’s tough because the more students that come back, the harder it is to socially distance,” he said. “But we also want the kids here because we believe that’s the best educational environment for them.”

The district’s staff and school board worked for weeks to develop protocols for the new year, then sent the plan to Cook Children’s Medical Center for review.

“That was a good move on our part,” Underwood said. “They gave us a lot of good suggestions and we have implemented all of them.”

He said the district’s plan for virtual learning will look much different from the one in the spring.

“The expectations are going to be far greater,” he said. “It’s going to be a full day of school with a full slate of virtual activities throughout the day.”

SEARCHING FOR NORMALCY

Returning to school this fall not only feels different for students and parents, but for educators as well.

And even as some struggle with the uncertainty of returning to campus, Underwood said teachers at SISD are determined to get back to work.

“We have the best teachers; they are warriors,” he said. “There are some who are still a little apprehensive, but they are determined to get back to teaching our kids.”

Underwood is ready too.

“It was great watching our kids come out for the first day of football practice and watching a volleyball game,” he said. “It gave us a sense of normalcy I think we all needed.”

Underwood is also encouraging fans to wear masks while attending games.

“I want to encourage the fans to attend games, but I would ask them to wear masks,” he said. “That will help us keep our schools open.”

And when those big yellow school buses roar back to life next week and schools are once again filled with eager learners, you might spot Underwood wearing his mask while greeting SISD back for what will most certainly be a memorable year.

Drop me a line and let me know what you think.

Beneath the Surface News. sara@beneaththesurfacenews.com