MCINTOSH, Ala. (WKRG) — For hundreds of kids in Washington County, the first day of school is almost like coming home. This is a school year that is closer to normal. In McIntosh, Chatom, and other schools across Washington County, one simple tradition is back. Parents were able to walk their kids into school, into their classrooms for the first time since the start of the 2019 school year. It’s a big indicator of how far the region has come since the pandemic and also a special part of the day for family members.

“It’s very important for parents, they want to be here for the very first day and we want them here and haven’t had them here in two years and we welcome the parents being here today,” said Principal Edna Billingsley. Other highlights include a new reading program to help make up deficits brought on in part by virtual learning. The superintendent said they have the school system 98% staffed. Washington County is a wide, rural area and the schools are often the central focus in many communities. Teachers were working Friday and some were evening coming in Sunday to get classrooms ready for Monday.