After a two-month break for the sleepy days of summer, life returned to the campuses of Monroe County schools - and predictable traffic snarls returned to the roads of construction-weary Key West.
At press time, neither the Key West Police Department, nor the Monroe County Sheriff's Office were reporting any school-related accidents or incidents, but for casual motorists, there was no mistaking the ever-present signs of the first day of school.
"All smooth today," sheriff's spokeswoman Deputy Becky Herrin reported. "No major issues."
"It's hard to say for sure, because it's still going on, but this morning went perfectly smoothly," said Key West police spokeswoman Alyson Crean. "I talked to [police Chief Donie Lee] to be sure."
More than 8,000 students marked the first day of school in the Keys.
At the newly constructed Horace O'Bryant K-8 school, students went through the motions of signing forms, taking part in fire drills, and otherwise getting organized for the school year. Due to its expanded size, the school now has four different departure times.
"We're using a wrist band system for now, to coordinate transportation to and from school, until the kids get oriented, which should take about a week," said Principal Mike Henriquez, presiding over the first coordinated student dismissal/parental pick-up in the school's new "cafetorium."
"We did have a little bell snafu in the elementary section, which is why some of these teachers and students are late getting here."
Of the 960 students currently enrolled at HOB, some 200-plus were transferred from the now-defunct Glynn R. Archer Elementary School.
"As a staff member I'm really excited to be part of this new team and to be working together with a larger staff," said first-grade teacher Regan Godsell. "I'm also very happy for the students, that they now have access to new technology and to a brand new campus."
Phyllis Squires, who has two granddaughters attending HOB, was pleased with the new facility her loved ones moved to from Glynn Archer.
"This is really wonderful," said Squires of the building, which was the frequent object of public controversy, during its construction. "And it's so close to my house. I love it."
Squires was among the parents and guardians who attended an open house last Friday. Her only complaint was that she had been told by staff that her pre-K granddaughter was too small to use the school's new playground.
"It's just like a regular playground," Squires said. "She's old enough to use it."
Throughout the district, the new year has already brought significant changes. New principals have been assigned to Poinciana Elementary, Plantation Key, Stanley Switlik schools. New principals have also been installed at the Island Christian School, and at the Treasure Village Montessori school, and Key West Collegiate Academy charter schools.
Overall, day one seemed to go off without a hitch.
"I've had feedback from the superintendent, senior staff and several principals, and all reported a good first day back," said School Board Chairman Andy Griffiths. "And as an added bonus, it looks like enrollment is up districtwide. I can't give you any numbers, but some principals told me they had more kids this first day, than they did last year. That's a good indicator."
Griffiths was also pleased with the cooperation the district received from the KWPD and MCSO.
"They reached out and offered up great support, and we can't thank them enough. We also got a lot of help from volunteer parents."