AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Bus drivers are getting back into the swing of things as they dropped elementary students off for their first day of the new school year on Thursday.

Willis Foreman Elementary fifth-grader Johnlee Coe is excited.

He said, “I like PE. PE is really fun. Sometimes I like reading. Reading is cool in school.”

Rachel Belcher has two kids going to Willis Foreman. One started kindergarten Thursday. She said it’s been somewhat of an emotional day.

She explained, “It was a struggle with virtual. It’s a lot easier face to face and I think it’s a little better hands-on for the kids especially at their age, for their young age.”

Masks are mandatory for all students, staff, and visitors inside Richmond County school facilities.

CSRA back-to-school dates for the 2021-2022 school year

“We feel that it’s just very important to provide a safe environment for our faculty, staff, and students so the recommendations of the CDC, we will continue to follow them,” said Superintendent Dr. Kenneth Bradshaw.

Belcher said, “Not used to wearing masks because they have been at home for so long so the mask is definitely a new thing they got to get used to.”

According to Richmond County school officials, they are keeping a close watch on the delta variant and there is more work to be done.

“We’re going to step up our disinfecting plan for our schools to ensure that we have a clean, safe environment for our students. We’re working closely with our custodial staff and we believe that may be a mitigation strategy to help,” said Dr. Bradshaw.

Belcher added, “It’s crazy that you would make an elementary schooler wear a mask but I understand where they’re coming from because of the new delta strand.”