For students across Miami-Dade and Broward Counties, the first day of school has arrived and thousands of youngsters and teenagers are back to hitting the books for another year of education.
The day started early for employees of both districts as bus drivers arrived at work and prepared to hit the road and get students to school safely. School Superintendents from both counties, Miami-Dade’s Alberto Carvalho and Broward’s Robert Runcie, where there to send off the drivers with a meal and message of starting the year on the right note.
At Shadowlawn Elementary, members of the Miami Heat paid a visit for the first school day.
Miami-Dade Students Get Zika Lesson
At the same time, the concerns over the Zika virus across South Florida have been amplified with the start of the school year. Last week, Miami-Dade County schools handed out long sleeve uniforms to students in the "Zika Zone" of Wynwood, while Miami Beach is dealing with keeping students safe after cases were confirmed there on Friday. And Miami-Dade County Schools also has it's own plan. Click here to see it.
Broward County is also keeping an eye on the virus when it comes to students, with nurses being trained in spotting the symptoms and the district communicating with health officials and working daily to eliminate possible breeding spots.
Miami-Dade Students Go Back to School
"It's an all hands on deck moment in Broward County,” said Runcie. “Everybody’s engaged. That’s how it’s going to continue until Zika is eradicated in South Florida."
The big question for parents was whether or not they're worried.
"Not at all, I've seen that they've been taking care of everything around here, they've been cleaning up, so no, I'm not worried about it," parent Nory Zaldivar said.
Broward Students Return to School For First Day of Year
Miami-Dade schools will be debuting dozens of magnet and specialty programs at schools across the county, while Broward will be expanding its Digital Classrooms program that uses technology to personalize the learning process.
"(It’s) extremely exciting. Not only for us and the educators but our students,” said MiMi Jensen, assistant principal at Bennett Elementary. “They come to school and want to be involved because they are doing things they enjoy."
For some, the start of the school year means moving to a new school. Those making the transition into middle or high school are understandably nervous, but taking everything in stride.
"I was just thinking ... Only some of my friends are here from last year,” said 11-year-old Jacob Nelson, who is starting middle school. “I have a chance to make new ones instead of having the same ones from before - and maybe I can have better friendships with them than I did have before."