TOWSON, Md. — Monday is the first day of school for the state's third largest school system as Baltimore County students and teachers head back to the classroom with Covid restrictions in place.
Students and teachers still face a lot of challenges during the pandemic as the school year starts off with in-person learning.
Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski, Jr. and superintendent Darryl Williams are visiting several schools to welcome back students.
The first day of school for Baltimore County students and teachers comes with the return of wearing masks and vaccination requirements.
All students, staff, and visitors will be required to mask up inside Baltimore County Public Schools while teachers and staff will have to provide proof of a Covid vaccination or submit to regular testing.
Baltimore County school administrators hope to avoid a Covid outbreak like one that just happened in Frederick County.
Frederick County schools opened less than 2 weeks ago with a mask mandate in place but about 40 students and staff tested positive for Covid-19. The outbreak put 600 students in quarantine at the start of the school year.
Many parents are still upset more or all kids aren't learning from home. some students are taking classes remotely but that option came with a deadline.
Some parents who missed their chance to sign up say the deadline was before the delta variant caused the recent surge in Covid cases.
Students also will have to wear masks on their way to and from school if they take the bus, although Baltimore County Public Schools director of transportation Jess Grim recognized there won’t be much social distancing on board.
“They may look like some of those bus capacities that we had prior to the pandemic. With that in mind, we do have our cleaning and disinfecting protocols, which we have not discontinued one bit during the pandemic, since any other restrictions have eased,” Grim said.
“Our goal is to get all students safely and effectively and efficiently to school on time, but we do take those first couple of weeks to make sure we iron out any kinks in our system,” Grim added.
Bus drivers will have plenty of masks for students but what the school system doesn't have enough of, are bus drivers.
Baltimore County usually has about 800 drivers to take 85,000 students to school, but they are about 80 drivers short.
A nationwide shortage of bus drivers is one of the other challenges of going to school during the pandemic.
“We do what are called double runs or sending buses back for a second run at a at a school that we know. And the impact that that has is, is it can contribute to late buses either in the morning or getting our students home in the afternoon,” Grim said.