McKinney ISD

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Reunited: MISD Students and Teachers Make Long-Anticipated Return to In-Person Learning

Press Release|
Shane Mauldin|
Wednesday, September 9, 2020
  • Evans Middle School science teacher Chandler Jackson introduces herself on the first day of McKinney ISD in-person learning on September 3, 2020.
  • Wolford Principal Fran Gratt (left) greets a student on the first day of in-person learning in McKinney ISD on September 3, 2020.
  • As many students returned to in-person learning, some continued with virtual learning. Here, McKinney ISD Superintendent Dr. Rick McDaniel greets Wolford students online.
  • Evans Middle School Principal Darla Jackson manages the drop off lane at Evans on the first day of McKinney ISD in-person learning on September 3, 2020.
  • Evans Middle School cheerleader Madison Price helped new students find their way around the school on the first day of McKinney ISD in-person learning on September 3, 2020.
  • McKinney High School choir students take part in class in a socially distanced seating arrangement on the first day of McKinney ISD in-person learning on September 3, 2020.

McKinney, Texas – It has been rather aptly referred to as the “second” first day of school.

As students arrived at McKinney ISD campuses on the morning of Thursday, Sept. 3 on foot, by bus and at the drop off lane, there was a celebratory air that certainly felt like the first day back after a long summer—in spite of the fact that the 2020-2021 school year actually kicked off three weeks ago, albeit in a virtual setting.

With everyone in masks, the smiles were a bit harder to read, but they were there.

“It’s so great to see you in person!” exclaimed art teacher Amanda Hughes as students strolled into her classroom at McKinney High School—a reunion of sorts for Hughes and students who had taken her classes the previous year. “I can’t believe how tall you’ve gotten!”

female student drawing at work table

Emilie Opoku works on a project in art class at McKinney High School where students returned on September 3, 2020, for the first time since March.

That scene was playing out all across the district. “We are so excited to have our boys and girls back in the building,” enthused Wolford Principal Fran Gratt. “We have missed them since March. Who ever thought in March when we went for spring break that we wouldn’t be coming back [until now]? It’s just wonderful to have the children in the building, to be able to see them. I know that they’re excited to be back, too. And, we couldn’t be happier at Wolford.”

teacher at front of classroom teaching

Wolford fifth grade teacher Michele McGilvray welcomes students to her class on September 3, 2020.

Next door, at Evans Middle School, Principal Darla Jackson and a vanguard of teachers welcomed students back to campus as they arrived in the drop off lane in front of the school. Once inside the building, students encountered not only more teachers and staff, but also Evans cheerleaders scattered throughout the halls holding signs asking, “Need help?” and offering assistance to students who were new to the school.

“It’s really exciting [to be back] because I’ve been home all this time,” said seventh grade cheerleader Samantha Sampo from behind her mask, as she stood in the school’s main corridor. “And, to just get to come here and help students out and cheer for my school…it’s really fun.”

female student wearing mask holding sign in the hall

Samantha Sampo was one of the Evans Middle School cheerleaders who helped new students find their way when they arrived for in-person learning on September 3, 2020.

McKinney ISD Superintendent Dr. Rick McDaniel stopped at Evans as he made his way around the district to welcome students and staff back to in-person learning. He visited with teachers and students in the hall and poked his head into classrooms for a quick wave and “Welcome back!” At the intersection of two hallways, he paused to take advantage of one of the hand sanitizing stations that dot the MISD landscape.

Hand sanitizer is, of course, just one piece of the health safety protocols in place on MISD campuses that include—among other measures—face masks for staff and students (ages 10 and older), social distancing in classrooms and an enhanced school cleaning regimen. (For more information about MISD student and staff safety protocols, click here and here.)

McDaniel using hand sanitizer station

McKinney ISD Superintendent Dr. Rick McDaniel uses one of Evans Middle School’s hand sanitizer stations during his visit on the first day of in-person learning.

“Like many districts around our area, McKinney ISD enjoyed an exciting first day of in-person learning,” said McDaniel, later. “Our students were extremely excited to be back with their teachers and friends, and our teachers were even more excited to see the kids again.

“While this past spring and summer have definitely not been without their challenges, I believe the opening day of in-person learning reflected the tremendous amount of work done behind the scenes to prepare and implement safety protocols for all. The MISD Technology Department should also be recognized for their tremendous work in taking on the challenge of deploying and supporting over 13,000 new electronic devices,” added McDaniel.

coach holding a clipboard talking to a student

Coach Ryan Estes checks in a student-athlete on the first day of in-person learning at Evans Middle School on September 3.

“Overall, despite the many challenges this pandemic has caused, I believe our start to the 2020–2021 school year has been excellent, and we shall continue to try and improve in all areas as we navigate these unprecedented times,” said McDaniel.

After months apart, Sept. 3 marked a heartfelt reunion of teachers who have sorely missed their students and students who have missed their teachers probably a bit more than they might readily admit.

And for a “second” first day, it was pretty great.

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If you need additional assistance with the content on this page, please contact MISD Communications Department team member Shane Mauldin by phone at 469-302-4007 or by email here .

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