Ready or not, Hillsborough kids go back to school

There's been excitement, and, for some, maybe a little bit of chaos this morning in Hillsborough County homes. It's the first day back to school for students.

Bright and early, 837 yellow buses hit the streets, picking up and dropping-off about 83,000 students. 

Drivers took the busses out on practice runs Thursday morning to work out any kinks, and make sure they're getting your kids to school on time.

"We want to make sure that all busses have done their runs in preparation for any roadblock or detours or low hanging tree limbs, stuff like that,” said one driver.

District officials also sent out alerts to parents letting them know not to worry if buses run a little late.  We’re told drop-offs could be delayed up to 2.5-hours during the first two weeks of school.

Authorities say this happens at the start of every school year as younger students learn how the system works, and staff makes sure kids are getting on the right buses.

"Someone is specifically at each bus, and then they're making sure each child that's supposed to be on the red bus is on the red bus, because the children just aren't used to it,” Hillsborough County Schools spokesperson Tanya Arja said.

There will also be some extra layers of security at your child's school this year. Some won’t be so noticeable, like changes in procedures, while others are designed to be visible.

"We'll have a law enforcement officer, a security officer on every single one of our campuses, elementary through high school," said Hillsborough County Schools superintendent Jeff Eakins.

They've gone through the training, ready to react and keep the students and staff safe.

Also new this year, the main entrances will be kept locked. Anyone coming inside will need to be buzzed through by the office.

"It's very important to have that extra layer of security because that's the only way you're getting into this school,” Barrington Middle School principal Amy Rappleyea said. “So to be able to have people state their purpose-- why are you here?  What do you need? How can I help you? If something doesn't look right that gives us a few minutes to get that resource officer on the phone to get to the front."

Additionally, teachers are prepared to analyze their classrooms tactically; instructing students, while being alert and aware.

"They need to look at their classrooms a bit differently. What does the classroom provide them physically, in case there's a lockdown situation, and an active shooter situation,” said John Newman, Hillsborough County Schools chief of security and emergency management.

Some teacher positions are still being filled across the district. And until all of the resource officers can be hired and trained for all the elementary schools, local police and deputies are filling in.