School is back in session Monday morning for students in the School District of Lee County. An estimated 87,000 children enrolled in the district's public and charter schools are expected to return to the classroom next week, according to officials. As of Thursday, 740 bus routes were scheduled.
"We anticipate growing about 2 percent this year on top of that," Amity Chandler, the district's spokeswoman, said referring to the start-of-year enrollment number.
Last year's final tally was 88,549, which included the charter schools and special centers.
"Most teachers came back this week on Monday," she said Thursday. "Some Title I school teachers came back the Monday before."
The district consists of 50 elementary schools, 22 middle schools and 14 high schools, as well as 17 special centers and 24 charters schools. According to the district's website, Lee County Public Schools is the ninth largest district within Florida, and it is the 37th largest school district in the United States.
With students heading back to school, commuters can expect more traffic on the roads.
Walking to school:
* Review your family's walking safety rules.
* Walk on the sidewalk, if one is available. When on a street with no sidewalk, walk facing the traffic.
* Before you cross the street, stop and look all ways to see if vehicles are coming.
* Never dart out in front of a parked vehicle.
* Practice walking to school with your child.
Source: National Safety Council
"Everybody needs to leave early. They need to not be in a hurry," Chandler said, adding that children will be at bus stops. "Some of these children are at the bus stop for the first time - safety first."
Parents planning to use parent pick up should also leave early.
"Everybody needs to be patient and kind to one another and enjoy the first week," she said.
Chandler noted that it will be the first day of school for many kindergarteners.
"You don't get another one, so savor every moment," she said.
Students taking the bus should be reminded to stay out of the road and away from the curb.
"They need to be aware of the traffic around them," Chandler said.
The district recommends parents do trial walks to and from the bus stop with their child.
"Talk about any safety practices and any safety concerns," she said.
For young children, an adult should escort them to the bus stop.
"Don't panic if your child does not get off the bus," Chandler said to parents of the ride home from school. "They're not lost; they're on one of our buses. We just have to find out which one."
She noted that bus drivers are trained to deal with the situation.
"It's a rare case, but it does happen during the first week of school," Chandler said.
Bus drivers will check attendance on their bus the first few days.
"Remember, the buses are going to be running a little behind schedule," she said.
For students riding a bicycle to school, Florida law requires those under 16 to wear a helmet.
"We really want students to wear their helmets," Chandler said. "They should not come to school without one."
Prior to Monday, students should also return to a regular sleep schedule of six to eight hours.
"High school students are usually the best at cheating themselves of sleep," she said.
Chandler pointed out that the district has a new "Lee County Public Schools" app available at the iTunes App Store or Google Play for free. Powered by ParentLink, it provides parents with easy access to student and district information, as well as announcements and details from their child's school.
"They can follow the school and sync the school calendar with their smart phone," she said.
For more back-to-school information, visit online: www.leeschools.net/back2school.
Parents can also contact the district at (239) 334-1102 or their child's school for information.