PICKENS CO., S.C. (WSPA) – Just like that, Pickens County school hallways are again filled with kids who are ready to start the new school year.

The School District of Pickens County said they’re excited to have them back and are ready for any challenges they may face.

“I love it when they come, it’s like a kid at Christmas,” said Croswell Elementary Principal Andy Holliday. “I love when they’re back on campus.”

School District of Pickens County Spokesperson Darian Burd said, after having so many disruptions due to the pandemic the past two school years, “We’re looking forward just to 180 days uninterrupted.”

While the halls were empty over the summer, the district said they’re focusing on how to make their schools safer.

“Revisiting all of our safety precautions and making sure everyone is comfortable and you just have to practice those things. So, we worked with our local law enforcement agencies and practice, practice practiced,” Byrd said.

They’ve implemented emergency buttons in every high school classroom, allowing teachers to alert the school in case of a threat.

“It notifies the office, notifies a group of administrators all at once if they’re needed. It helps pinpoint the location of where that person is on campus,” Byrd said.

The district said one of the biggest challenges they’re facing is the lack of bus drivers and substitute teachers. They say they want to ensure every student is at the level of learning they need to be.

“Trying to close these achievement gaps that still appear to be there. A fifth grader now did not have a normal third grade year or a normal fourth grade year,” Byrd said. “There’s a lot of standards there that might not have been taught, so we’re just trying to close all of those gaps up and get them ready to move onto the next grade successfully.”

Administrators said all information and updates parents need to know will be located on the district’s website.