Legions of children return to school

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With joy and enthusiasm, tens of thousands of children and young people began the 2023-2024 student academic year on Monday the 21st in most Virginia counties, including Fairfax and Prince William, and the cities of Alexandria and Manassas. They were received with applause from officials and educators, and in some cases with the musical orchestras of their respective schools.

This Monday the students of the public schools of Maryland will do it, especially the counties of Montgomery, Prince George's, Howard and Baltimore, but others will do it on September 5, including those of Howard, Cecil and Worcester.

In Washington DC the start of classes was also scheduled for Wednesday the 30th in all public schools in the District, although those enrolled in Pre-Kindergarten will only do so on September 2.

On a tour of the start of school, authorities found that at Robinson High School in Fairfax, students were greeted by the school's marching band and cheerleaders who led a "pepper party" to much applause.

Principal Tracey Phillips told reporters the gesture was intended to “make the excitement last on the first day and throughout the school year, and keep students energized.”

This celebration was attended by Fairfax Public Schools Superintendent Michelle Reid, who said the excitement she saw among the students that Monday morning showed her "how much they missed being at school."

Reid released the county's recently released 7-year school strategic plan: "We want every third grader to be a reader, and at a minimum every eighth grader to advance in algebra because it's a control course," said.

He also said the county is also considering installing gun detectors in some of its high schools.

“Our security team continues to explore different vendors and options for that, as well as many other security procedures, practices, and products that we are working with at different schools across the system,” the superintendent said.

And in Prince William County, students at Osbourn Park High School woke up super early for a 6 a.m. school-wide pep rally. There, the school band, cheerleaders, choir and the yellow jacket mascot gathered in front of the building to headline the festivities.

Similar scenes played out at many schools in Northern Virginia, and will no doubt be part of the start-of-school activities in DC and Maryland in the days to come.


  • Chronic student absenteeism has spiked nationally during the pandemic, and the Montgomery County Public School system has not escaped that trend.
  • The county public school system has decided to take actions to stop this situation, which will begin this Monday.
  • During the 2018-19 school year, the chronic absenteeism rate was just under 20%. In the 2022-23 school year, the overall chronic absenteeism rate jumped to 27%.
  • That translates to about 43,000 students missing more than 10% of the 180 days in a school year.

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