CHATOM, Ala. (WKRG) — School starts tomorrow for students in Washington County. 2022 marks a return to more normalcy.

It’s quiet on the sidewalk outside Chatom Elementary School, starting Monday, a small tradition returns. Parents won’t have to leave kids at the front door but be allowed to walk them to class for the first time in years.

“Just everything they’ve been through for the past two years, just not being able to say goodbye,” said school superintendent Lisa Connell. Superintendent Lisa Connell says she’s looking forward to the start of the school year. Changes this year include a new reading program to help make up for education deficits likely brought by COVID disruptions.

“When we had to do the virtual we were not prepared and that’s not finding fault with anyone we just never had been in that position before,” said Connell. Washington County is a very rural area and in a lot of ways, it’s those schools that bind communities together.

“I think anyone in any of those communities will tell you that school is the foundation of that community,” said Connell. Another highlight, Connell says they have the school system 98% staffed, after reaching out to people with four-year degrees.

“We did this last year and those teachers came in very enthusiastic so we made a push for that this year,” said Connell. Teachers seem ready too–some working Friday and even Sunday to get their classrooms ready for the start of the school year.