COLUMBUS (WCMH) — This time next week, it will be a school night for Columbus City School students.

It will be the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic started that kids would return to the classroom in person five days a week.

The district hosted a virtual engagement session Wednesday night focused on what parents should expect sending their children back into the classroom.

Several topics were discussed over the Zoom meeting and the chatroom was a flurry of questions — not all of them were answered.

The district focused on safety protocols to kick off the information session.

Columbus City School is sticking with many of the practices they had at the end of last school year, including cleaning, hand washing, and universal masking.

“Fits over their nose and their mouth,” said Dr. Sara Bode with Nationwide Children’s Hospital. “It doesn’t gape open or it’s not, you know, incredibly too large for their face and that they are comfortable in it so that they can keep it on.” She shared students do not need a specific mask for back to school.

The virtual engagement session touched on safety, academics, and transportation.

Parents were encouraged to ask questions in the chat. Many asked about ventilation at the schools, but also what will lunch look like with spacing.

“There’s not a one-size-fits-all answer to that question since all of our schools are a little different,” said Joe Brown, director of Food Services for the district. “We have different cafeteria layouts and different numbers of students in different buildings.”

Jennifer Hutton with Hubbard Elementary school said about lunch, “We’re going to utilize some of the classrooms, even some outdoor space, weather permitting, so that we can kind of spread people out and keep our kiddos as safe as possible.”

The district also offered a big update on transportation, stating that the district will be able to transport all students using the schools’ buses.

The district purchased software this summer to help streamline bus routes in an effort to solve its bus driver shortage. It announced bus routes were reduced from 700 to 560 with 613 active drivers to start the year.

Specifics on bus stops are coming out this week and will be available on the parent portal.

“If you haven’t received it yet, it will be hitting your mailboxes in the coming days,” said Rob Weinheimer with the district’s Transportation Department. “We’re taking crates and crates and crates of mailers to the post office. We’re becoming good friends with our local post employees as they see mailer after mailer coming.”

There were some things that the engagement session did not touch on, such as what could push the district out of the in-person model.

Parents who did not have their questions answered were encouraged to fill out a special form online. That form can be accessed by clicking here.

The first day of school is Aug. 26.