DUVAL COUNTY, Fla. – More than 120,000 students went back to school Monday in Duval County. That’s more than St. Johns, Clay, Nassau, and Putnam counties combined.
Duval is the 20th largest school district in the country -- the sixth largest in Florida -- and families can expect a lot of changes. Families can expect larger classes and longer bus routes. Some parents and guardians may be feeling nervous, overwhelmed, or confused about bus schedules, schools, or even who to call if they have questions.
News4JAX has been covering back-to-school stories all week to find out the information needed as students head back to school. Below we have compiled our key coverage points -- putting them all inside this article to be easily found.
Bus delays, driver shortages
News4JAX saw dozens of bus route delays on Monday -- some running 30 minutes late, some running up to 60 minutes late. The district is asking parents to be patient. It’s dealing with a bus driver shortage and it might not level out for a couple of weeks. Most of this morning’s delays were during the 5 a.m. hour -- right when buses were hitting the road. Click here to check bus delays and stay updated throughout the week.
If you have a question about transportation you can always call the district’s transportation hotline. That’s 904-858-6200. Someone will answer your call from 7 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. Those extended hours will last for the next two weeks.
As students return to class -- some are starting the year off with a substitute teacher. According to Duval County Schools, there are 389 teacher vacancies and 111 open positions for paraprofessionals. Click here to read more about the teacher shortages.
New COVID guidelines
The Pandemic is not over, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) wants to move to a point where COVID-19 no longer severely disrupts our daily lives. The CDC rolled out several new guidelines last week involving schools. In Duval County, the school district is no longer operating its COVID-19 dashboard. Parents will no longer receive nightly calls and elementary students will not get letters about individual cases at schools from the district. Click here to read the guidance updates from the Duval County school district.
The Duval County school district is reminding parents to apply for a free laptop or hot spot for their child if they need it. The district received $22 million to provide 43,000 student laptops and 10,000 hot spots through AT&T. Click here to apply and for more information.
Safety training: In Duval County, staff at local schools held special drills this summer. They focused on how to reunite parents and children if there is a disaster, like an armed attacker. Click here to see the drills and read more about the training.
Traffic safety reminders: The roads are about to get more crowded and dangerous as millions of students and teachers return to school. Here are some pedestrian and traffic safety reminders for parents, students and drivers.
As kids head back to the classroom parents are encouraged to keep track of their child’s mental health. Mental health check-ins are a vital part of setting your child up for success this school year, according to clinical social worker Lori Osachy. Click here to see what you should look for and how to keep a check on your child’s mental health.
Last but not least, we want you to share your child’s back-to-school photos! Click here to upload them on SnapJAX! The photos submitted could be shown on-air, online and on our News4Jax social media platforms!