Maryland students are returning to school despite teacher shortages and bus driver shortages

BALTIMORE Tomorrow is the first day of school for many Baltimore-area kids.

From teacher shortages to COVID-19 concernsWJZ has been tracking the issues school systems across the region are facing as they prepare to welcome students back.

Some students told WJZ they were excited about the first day of school. Their family members are also delighted.

“It’s really exciting and takes me back to when (my granddaughter’s) mom was in school,” said Baltimore resident Rhona Watties.

Children attending schools in Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Anne Arundel County and Howard County return to class on Monday.

School district leaders say they are preparing for the new year and trying to navigate through the challenges.

One of the biggest challenges they face is national teacher shortagewhich impacts districts across the county.

“Kids need to bond with a teacher,” Watties said. “This bonding experience is something irreplaceable.”

School districts tried to make hires.

“We’ve been hiring and doing recruiting efforts all year,” Baltimore County Superintendent Darryl Williams said. “Staffing is not a one-season activity. It is a year-round activity.”

Some districts also face shortage of bus drivers. In Anne Arundel County, some bus routes had to be canceled to fill vacancies.

School leaders are also focusing on student safety. Baltimore City school officials and law enforcement met on the matter last week.

Parents are also worried about how their children will be protected from COVID-19.

“The concern I had was when they go back to school after the weekend, they get tested that Monday,” Watties said. “They don’t get results until Wednesday.”

Even with these challenges, parents are happy to see their children back in the classroom.

But some children will be asked to leave these classrooms earlier.

A heat advisory for Monday and Tuesday prompted Baltimore City schools to dismiss students early.

Schools with start times between 7:30 a.m. and 7:45 a.m. will release students at 11:30 a.m.

Schools with start times between 8 a.m. and 8:45 a.m. will release students at 12:30 p.m.

Meanwhile, schools with start times between 9 a.m. and 9:15 a.m. will release students at 12:45 p.m.

Here is a complete list of schools and their early closing times.

Schools that will release students at 11:30 a.m.

• Baltimore City College

• Curtis Bay Elementary/Middle School

• Furley Primary School

• New Era Academy

• Empowerment Academy

• Eutaw-Marshburn Elementary School

• Franklin Square Elementary/Middle School

• Montebello Elementary/Middle School @ PDC

• Vanguard Collegiate High School

Schools that will release students at 12:30 p.m.

• Benjamin Franklin High School in Masonville Cove

• Harlem Park Elementary/Middle School

• City Springs Elementary/Middle School

• Foundation of the National Academy

• Mount Washington School (lower building)

Schools that will release students at 12:45 p.m.

• Opportunity for young people

• Elementary/Intermediate Cross Country School

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