Supt. Lynn Torres

The start of school has always been my favorite time of year. I can celebrate when the store shelves are full of new pens, pencils, paper and the next new “school supply” that I cannot live without. As the superintendent of schools, I cannot let the current situation dampen my enthusiasm for a new school year and a new start.

This year that celebration about the start of school will take on a new concern for the health and safety of our staff, students and community. As we prepare to start the year, much of our daily routine will look stranger than it ever has. We have all become adept at wearing masks and social distancing. The school environment will be no different. We will take on the challenge of teaching students how to wash their hands, wear masks and do what does not come naturally to a student, maintain a social distance from their friends and teachers.

We have worked to be prepared for the start of school. We have implemented safety measures, distancing, sanitizing, new cleaning protocols, screening students and the few visitors who will be allowed on campuses, alternatives to lunch in the cafeteria, Plexiglas barriers on tables and desks, and many more all to do our part to lessen the chances of a potential outbreak.

We have told our community about the air purifiers we have added to the air conditioning units on all campuses. We have received most of our order from the state for masks, hand sanitizer and thermometers. That being said, we all know that we will experience some form of the virus on our campuses. This is no different than you as a family face daily.

We have protocols in place to determine close contact, and we will deal with each situation that comes our way. We have worked with a committee of administrators and health professionals, special thanks to Dr. Jeff Glass, to develop our procedures, and we are confident that we will be able to handle what we will face this year.

True to our predictions, about 30% of our students have chosen to start the year virtually as part of the Lufkin Virtual Learning Academy. Our staff has worked diligently to make preparations for this new learning experience. Thanks to our board, our students will have the materials, technology and access to a world-class education even from home.

We welcomed our staff back on Aug. 10, our virtual convocation will be on Friday, and students will start on Aug. 24. Our convocation will be virtual this year, but is still wholeheartedly supported by the community. Messages of hope from Mayor Bob Brown, state Rep. Trent Ashby, along with local CEO’s, business leaders and individuals, will make our virtual convocation inspiring and uplifting.

The community is supporting this day for our staff by donating lots of door prizes and items for our goody bags to ensure that our staff feels the support from Lufkin.

Which leads me to our theme this year, Lufkin Proud. We are proud of each and every one of our staff members. We have strength in numbers, which means we are not alone. Our staff has the support of Lufkin ISD and our amazing community.

Thanks for a great start back, and we look forward to making this an exceptional school year.