• BACK TO SCHOOL 2019: What you need to know for the first day

    Updated:

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    [SPECIAL SECTION: BACK TO SCHOOL 2019]

    It's time to head back to school! 

    Monday marks the first day of school for several counties in the Channel 9 viewing area. 

    [WATCH: Meteorologist Keith Monday's Anson County and Lincoln County Back to School forecast]


    It's time to head back to school in the Charlotte area! Our team coverage has students and parents covered on all things "Back to School," on Eyewitness News.


    Eyewitness News has dedicated a special section for coverage to help you prepare for the first day back to class.

    FIRST DAY BACK: 

    • Alexander County: August 26
    • Anson County: August 12
    • Ashe County: August 15
    • Avery County: August 7
    • Burke County: August 26
    • Cabarrus County: August 26
    • Caldwell County: August 26
    • Catawba County: August 26
    • Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools: August 26
    • Chesterfield County: August 19
    • Chester County: August 19
    • Cleveland County: August 26
    • Gaston County: August 26
    • Iredell County: August 8
    • Lancaster County: August 19
    • Lincoln County: August 12
    • Richmond County: August 26
    • Stanly County: August 26
    • Rowan-Salisbury County: August 7
    • Union County: August 26
    • Watauga County: August 19
    • York County: August 19

    Meteorologist Keith Monday will be in Severe Weather Center 9, tracking any weather that could impact your drive to school, bus stop drop-offs, and after-school pick-ups.

    [CLICK HERE to download the free WSOC-TV weather app]

    [WATCH: Interactive Radar]

    [CLICK to follow Meteorologist Keith Monday on Twitter for updates on Back to School weather]


    If you are concerned about the drive to school, Traffic Team 9 will have traffic updates on Eyewitness News Daybreak every 10 minutes, starting at 4:30 a.m.

    [TRAFFIC TEAM DRIVE TIME LIVE]

    [CLICK to follow Traffic Team 9 on Twitter for minute-by-minute traffic updates] 


    Get to school and back home safely

    On the first day of school, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools will launch more than a thousand buses across the Charlotte area, taking hundreds of thousands of students to and from school. 

    Parents can track their child's bus with the "Here Comes the Bus" app.

    [CLICK to download "Here Comes the Bus"]

    School officials say parents should have their child at their assigned bus stop at least 10 minutes before the scheduled stop time. 

    Some CMS students will be hopping on brand-new propane powered school buses. North Carolina is paying for them after they got money from a "Clear Air" initiative. 

    The propane should help lower emissions, keep the bus quiet and save the district thousands. It is also expected to hold up in a crash. 

    [ALSO READ: CMS raises starting pay for district bus drivers to $15 an hour]

    CMS told Channel 9 they were still short about 15 bus drivers before the start of the 2019 school year, which is a change compared to last year when we had almost 70 vacancies. 

    Transportation Director Adam Johnson believes the pay increase last year to $15 an hour is helping with driver retention and recruiting. It makes CMS the highest paid in the state for school drivers. 

    [Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Bell Schedules]

    In addition, school security is one of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools' top priorities after last year's deadly shooting at Butler High School.

    The CMS police chief and superintendent updated parents on how they're planning to keep students safe ahead of the upcoming school year.


    BACK TO SCHOOL COVERAGE: 


    One major change is the crisis alert system, which is moving into all high schools after being piloted at Charlotte East Language Academy last year. With the new program, all staff will have a panic card that can trigger the system. The system then sends school-wide alerts for lockdowns, evacuations, severe weather or emergency medical situations.

    The district now has more than 7,000 cameras monitoring schools, and they have provided active survival training for all employees, which is more than 8,000 people. 

    They also made physical improvements with upgraded locks, stronger doors, and digital access controls for main entries. 

    Another big change is the use of K-9 officer Nico to sniff out firearms. He's already found one gun during the summer session and will be used in random screenings alongside metal detectors and wands.

    Random security screenings are also moving into middle and K-8 schools, in addition to high schools. 

    CMS student services

    The deadly shooting at Butler High School last fall launched a lot of changes including a suicide prevention program.

    Some of the new changes also come from teachers marching in Raleigh.

    CMS said they are adding 22 positions to their student services roster, which includes psychologists, counselors and social workers.

    They are also expanding the "Sources of Strength" suicide prevention program to another four high schools because of new funding from county commissioners. 

    Last year, they completed more than 4,400 student suicide evaluations. 

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