Students start new school year in Polk, Pasco counties

- Thousands of students will start a new school year on Monday morning.

While several Bay area counties started school a week ago, Monday marks the first day for students in Polk and Pasco counties.

Authorities in both counties are reminding parents and drivers to be prepared for an increase in traffic and school buses on the roadways.

Both school districts are opening new schools Monday. In Pasco County, a new elementary school in Wesley Chapel, called Wiregrass Elementary, is opening its doors to students.

In Polk County, a public civics academy, Citrus Ridge, is also opening on Monday morning. It's one of the first in the country to base its curriculum on civics.

"We have to start teaching our kids early so that when they go through school, and they go through college, and go out, they'll have that foundation already built," said Polk Superintendent Jacqueline Byrd. 

The civics school is also taking an unusual approach to what many people may consider a foreign language. Kids from kindergarten on up will be learning American Sign Language. It is a lesson on inclusiveness, trying to make sure no one is excluded from the community. 

Sarasota County is the last district to start the new school year in the Tampa Bay area. Students there will head back to school on Monday August 22.

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