SPRINGDALE (KFSM) -- There was a buzz of excitement -- and maybe a few nerves -- as students throughout Northwest Arkansas headed back to school on Monday.
Rick Schaeffer, communications director of Springdale Public Schools, said nearly 23,000 kids are returning to Springdale, and he warns drivers to watch for children returning to school and school buses making frequent stops.
"Be careful as you drive," Schaeffer said. "Anytime you see that stop sign come out from a bus, be sure and stop and let them pick up those kids."
Schaeffer said they've been preparing for this day for months, making sure buses are ready to go and preparing the buildings for students. He said teachers have been preparing as well.
"Teachers have been preparing for a week," he said. "They've been in their classrooms, they've been having professional development for the last week. Some teachers will tell you they've been working on their classrooms all summer to get them ready, and of course, principals have everything ready to go."
Schaeffer said some schools have breakfast in the classroom at 7:50 a.m., and workers have been preparing for that as well.
Students who need to be on free and reduced lunches should sign up right away, if they haven't already, Schaeffer said. There is a 30-day grace period that allows the program to carry over for those who were on the program last year. However, they will need to have the paperwork done before that 30 days is up.
"The sooner they get those forms filled out, the absolute better," Schaeffer said.
Fayetteville and Bentonville public schools also started Monday (Aug. 13).
Some of the bigger schools in the River Valley start back on Wednesday, as does the Rogers School District. You can look for 5NEWS coverage of Fort Smith, Van Buren and more heading back to school Wednesday.