TRI-STATE (WEHT) — As school returns and children are welcomed back, faculty and staff have been focused on making all the necessary preparations of helping students as they take on a new school year.

Educators like South Spencer superintendent Brad Schneider says he was excited to welcome everyone back as they spread positive outlook for what they hope is a school year that will return to a sense of normalcy.

“Seeing all the kids walk through the front door and they’re happy, they’re excited to be here,” Schneider said. “I know the staff is excited, so you put all that together and it’s a lot of positive energy and we’re looking forward to educating and taking care of our kids.”

Mater Dei started the school year with freshman and sophomores only with underclassmen joining their schoolmates on Thursday. This was a method enacted during the pandemic.

“We can focus more on freshmen and sophomores but especially freshmen who are coming into a new building and the anxiety there that they’re nervous about that first day and not sure where to get around so we have upperclassmen,” Dan Neimeier, president of mater Dei explained. “Honor Society students and others who are here to help guide them.”

Schneider says he and his staff try to make school a positive and fun environment for the kids but know that their main goal is academics.

COVID has made difficult for everyone but the pandemic has played unfortunate roles for many students scholastically.

“COVID has taken a toll and we know especially are young kids 2nd grade 3rd grade are behind a little bit because of what we had to go through the last several of years,” Schneider said. “We’re putting together a strategic plan and putting some initiatives in place.”

Administrators say preparations for this school year have been ongoing since last school year ended.

“The last couple of weeks it’s been focused more on the students getting the schedules all lined out and our activities for orientation all squared a way so when they walk in the door it’s looks like we’ve been, we’re ready to focus on them,” Neimeier explained.