Speaking at the Brownwood Country Club Friday, the superintendents of Brownwood’s three largest school districts had a message:


While COVID is forcing schools to make accommodations as they enter uncertain territory, schools will not willingly surrender to the pandemic.


Dr. Joe Young of Brownwood, Dr. Dewayne Wilkins of Early and Dr. Josh Martin of Bangs conveyed optimisim and humor as they spoke at a luncheon jointly sponsored by the Brownwood and Early chambers of commerce.


The superintendents described the efforts their schools are taking to keep staff and students safe while having a school year that is as close to normal as possible.


School began Wednesday in Brownwood and Bangs. In Early, school begins Monday.


"The best thing about being here in Brown County is the camaraderie and working together that we have," Wilkins said. "We have striven as a unified group to put up a front that we’re all on the same page. We’re Brown County."


Wilkins noted that there is only one "first" day of school and one "last" day. "These seniors are going off to college," Wilkins said. "We want to make it great for them.


"You walk in buildings, it doesn’t matter where you go, people are wearing their masks. Kids are excited to be there. I went to registration. I never saw so many smiling eyes. Couldn’t see faces. Those eyes looked good."


Wilkins, who is starting his first year as Early’s superintendent, noted he doesn’t know everybody. It’s hard to remember people’s names when you can’t see their faces, Wilkins said.


"I started July 1 and you’re supposed to have these great, great community gatherings," Wilkins said. "You’re supposed to be able to get to meet people, see people, talk about your vision, what you want to do. My vision is to survive COVID. That’s what I want to do."


Wilkins said he’s put out virtual messages to the community.


"We all have mottos," Wilkins said. "Our motto is ‘what starts here changes the world.’ I think that happens in every district, changing the world, one kid at a time, one grade level at a time."


Wilkins said he hopes to see high school students involved at the elementary level as the district strives to "incorporate as much as we possibly we can to have some normalcy. They’re so ready to be back. Parents are ready for it to happen.


"We need community support from everybody. We need grace. We’re making decisions on imperfect information daily. It’s constantly changing. "We’re trying to take this imperfect information and great make concrete decisions. We ask for grace from the community, just to support every decision. We’re ready to get going."