STALLINGS — On a tour of school clusters, Dr. Andrew Houlihan, superintendent of Union County Public Schools (UCPS) visited Stallings Elementary to wish students a great first day of school.

Houlihan visited a second grade classroom. Houlihan previously taught second grade in Wake County before transitioning to administration.

The superintendent called it a “tremendous” first day of school and the energy compared to last year is “unparalleled.” He said: “To have all of our kids back, in-person, is just awesome.”

With him were Board of Education at-large member Rev. Jimmy H. Bention,Sr. and Chief Academic Officer Dr. Brad Breedlove.

When asked if the Board of Education’s vote to make face masks optional for the school year was the best decision, Houlihan said it comes down to parental choice.

“We believe that parents should have a choice … and so we are letting them have that choice,” Houlihan said.

He said the school will continue to work on a case by case, building by building basis. Any changes or recommendations will be brought before the Board of Education for consideration.

“My issue here is we’re here to educate kids and that’s why I am so excited that today is the first day we’re back in the school building. It’s just great to see our kids back,” Houlihan said.