Dallas ISD is getting pumped up.
On Monday morning, the district hosted a Back to School Kick-Off event at Loos Field House for coaches and athletics staff. The event aimed to motivate and encourage everyone as they embark on a new school year.
“It's our annual meeting just to celebrate what we’ve accomplished so far. And looking forward to the future -- we’re super excited about it," said Silvia Salinas, the athletics executive director for DISD.
Especially after the past 18 months, district officials said they want to make sure people are feeling as good as possible heading into another school year amid the pandemic.
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"Our coaches inspire us to keep working,” said Salinas. “Just pouring into kids and pouring into our coaches. Just trying to uplift everybody and start off on a positive note."
The school district will be heading back to full in-person learning starting Aug. 16, with no virtual options for students other than those enrolled at the Dallas Hybrid Preparatory at Stephen J. Hay.
There are also three different school year calendars teachers and coaches will be juggling.
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Football, track and volleyball season is also around the corner, with many sports teams gearing up for practices again.
School district officials said they will remain cautious, especially with recent developments on the Delta variant and COVID-19 hospitalizations.
"We are cautious. We are still going to continue to take precautions to ensure the safety of our coaches and athletes,” said Salinas. "Just the screenings and making sure that people are not showing up for practices, for events and things if they have any kind of symptoms."
Last fall, some games had to be canceled because of COVID infections and it could happen again this year.
“That will be possible. We’re not in the clear yet. So we’re going to continue to take precautions as necessary. We will definitely communicate all of that, we'll have our website in case games change and everything," said Salinas.
She added that the district will still be monitoring COVID cases as students begin those practices and once games begin this fall. Click here to monitor the DISD Athletics website for updates.
"We're still going to continue with online ticket sales so we will not have cash tickets. That's one important thing to tell parents,” she said. “Masks are not mandated but if you’re uncomfortable being around folks, wear a mask."
The Back to School Kick Off featured panel discussions with coaches and principals and a word from superintendent Michael Hinojosa.
There was also keynote speech from Kevin Atlas, the first one-armed person to receive a Division I basketball scholarship.
"We’re trying to get them on the right start with the new school year and provide support and services for them," said Salinas. "Some folks just look at what the employee can do for us. And I look at it more as I care more about the employee as a person, versus what they can do for the district in our department. Caring about the individual is important."
Coaches are also excited to reconnect with students again.
“It’s been tough dealing with COVID but it’ll be a great opportunity to see the kids every day at Skyline," said Hermann Johnson, the head football coach and athletic director at Skyline High School. "It’ll be good to get back to some normalcy and see the kids every day."
But he added that he will be cautious and keeping a close eye on the things that concern him.
“What this new variant is going to do for reopening school. It sends some questions up in the air. But I think that we have a lot of people that have been vaccinated. I think the kids are eager to get back into normal school," Johnson said.