MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — Students and teachers returned to the classroom in Mobile County on Thursday morning for the first day of the school year.

The Mobile County Public School System is the largest school in the state with 90 schools and more than 54,000 students.

“We’re very excited. It’s the first day of school. We are always looking forward to seeing our kids smiling faces,” said Rena Philips, the Director of Communications for the Mobile County Public School System.

School officials say they’ve been preparing for this school year all summer long.

Here are 5 tips for parents to know:

Masks are optional this year. Additionally, classes are being done in-person but every student is will still have a Chromebook to enhance their learning.

The school district also hired additional counseling staff over the summer with COVID-19 relief money to ensure that every school has their own dedicated counselor.

“There’s a lot of skills that need to be actually explicitly taught. They’re above and beyond math, the reading, so it’s friendship, it’s conflict resolution, there’s a lot of gaps there so working on those social emotional skills is important,” said Stephanie Bradford, a new counselor at Leinkauf Elementary School.

School officials encourage parents to stay up to date on what’s going on at their children’s school.

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