Back to school [Editorial]
Loaded down with bookbags and school supplies, William S. James Elementary School students march to their building to begin their first day of the 2018-19 school year Tuesday morning. (Matt Button / Aegis Staff / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Tuesday marked the start of classes for the 2018-19 school year in Harford and Cecil counties, a significant date every year because it’s one that comes with a lot of hope and promise, if not more than a few groans from the younger set.

There are approximately 38,000 boys and girls in the Harford public school system, given a hundred or two, and a few thousand more local kids who attend private schools in grades K through 12 and who knows how many that attend pre-schools around the county. Cecil Public Schools enrolls nearly 16,000 boys and girls. Both public systems started the year with new leaders, Dr. Sean Bulson in Harford and Dr. Jeffrey Lawson in Cecil.


As this school year has approached, many thoughts have been focused on the safety of our students, and for good reason, given last year’s in-school violence around the United States, including in Southern Maryland. Clearly there’s been much discussed and written on this subject, including within the news and opinion sections of The Aegis, The Record and, and we will continue to monitor local school safety initiatives and concerns, as we are sure many parents and educators will over the next 10 months.

We can say we feel confident that school system leaders and the general public and many public safety and public health professionals understand the importance of the safety and security in our schools, and that’s a good thing.

For example, last week’s Stop the Bleed training program held at the Harford County Department of Emergency Services brought together 80 school nurses from local public and private schools to learn how best to stop a serious bleeding injury, weather it be from a cut encountered during a school project or athletic activity or a mass casualty event. The program was sponsored locally by University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health.

“It helps them [the school nurses] be competent to manage any kind of bleeding injury they might have in a school setting,” explained Vickie Bands, director of community outreach and health improvement for Upper Chesapeake Health.

“With the nature of their setting with kids every day, the likelihood is great” for bleeding related injuries, Bands told Aegis staff member Erika Butler. “They’re the front-line personnel, the ones who need to manage until 911 gets there.”

Last week we also interviewed new teachers at Forest Hill Elementary who recounted how they have worked with their administrators to learn all the necessary safety and security protocols that have been put in place at their school — protocols that HCPS leaders stress are standard operating procedures being followed in every one of their 50 schools.

“I feel very fortunate to be in the school that I am, where my administration is so conscious” of safety and security, new Forest Hill fourth-grade teacher Kayla Lanchak told Aegis staff member David Anderson.

While we expect security to be a daily concern at our schools, that doesn’t preclude still emphasizing that our children are in school to learn first and foremost. Here’s looking forward to a great new school year – and a very safe one, too.