As the first week of school comes to an end for the Waxahachie District, faculty share their first week impressions for the new school year.

Finley Junior High School Principal Derek Zandt said that the first day went pretty well.

"The first day of school was probably one of the smoothest starts to school that I’ve seen in 15 years. Our kids were amazing and our staff members. With all our COVID guidelines that we’ve had to follow and to teach them, they came in with masks on, every student," Zandt said. "That’s one of the worries I had, you know, ‘How are we gonna teach our students if they have to wear a mask all day or social distance at lunch?’ And it starts at home. Parents did a really good job of informing their kids on what it’s gonna look like here at Finley Junior High."

Zandt has tried to communicate as much as possible with his students and parents, greeting the students before they enter the school in the morning.

"Every morning I try to be on the back porch and greet our kids as they come into the building and wave at our parents. And that’s what I love looking forward to. The start of the morning and just seeing our kids – I wish I could just see their smiles. I just see the energy that they brought to school and that’s probably what I was looking forward to the most, is seeing our kiddos and parents."

Additionally, Zandt feels like the students are already getting used to the new protocols. "Honestly I feel like we’ve got it down. Our students got it down in the classroom ... and I’m very impressed with my staff and students that have just caught on and accepted that this is the new normal right now. I’ve got a staff that understands how to adapt and understands how to make changes. It’s been a smooth sailing so far," Zandt shared.

Although Zandt admits that this year wile be a challenging, he believes that patience and unity can help the process.

"This is gonna be the hardest year in education for everybody. It’s gonna be like the first year for everyone who is part of education. We know the challenges ahead. We have to keep our kids safe. That’s our number one priority, and now we have to keep them healthy as well," Zandt said. "I know the planning and what every campus has had to do to make this a successful start. I ask for patience. It’s a tough year and it’s gonna be a tough year for everybody, but we’re gonna get through it. We have a great community. I would like to see everybody get together and work with each other and try to be positive."

Wedgeworth Elementary School Principal Tim Day also shared his perspective on the first week of school.

"The first day was just amazing. Just to be able to see the students smiling and their excitement of being back on campus. I was most excited to see the kids again, walking down the hallways and hearing them talking and hearing the excitement in their voices. I was just excited to interact with them again," Day said. "What’s been amazing about our staff is that they have been amazing with the different challenges that they’ve been having to face with this. They have taken it and have run with it. They’ve adapted and have provided the best support for the students."

Day took the role of Principal on last November, and he believes this year could be one of the best years for his students.

"I think it’s definitely going to be one of the most challenging [years] that they have faced so far, but also telling the teachers and staff that it could also be our best year ... just because we’ll be able to finish the year," Day stated. "Just having seen all we did to accomplish and seeing the students grow throughout the year as well, whether virtually or in person. That’s what it's all about, is helping our students."

In person and virtual learners began school on Monday, Aug. 17, ringing in the 2020-21 school year.