The Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation is gearing up for their phased reopening plan, with the first day of school set for Wednesday morning.
"Students have not been in school with us with since last March, so that makes this a very unique start," commented Jason Woebkenberg with EVSC.
A start parents have spent weeks preparing for, and the beginning of the new school year is closer than ever.
It's back to the classroom for many EVSC students, in a school year unlike any other.
A split start--based on last name--that will also have students taking lessons at home on certain days.
"It's going to give us about half of the number of students in the building, to really help them to have more time, to have more space, to learn the safety protocols, to start building that relationship with their teachers. Then everyone will return a week from Thursday," Woebkenberg added.
Everyone, that is, except for those pursing other options, including EVSC's Virtual Academy.
Normally 80 students a year are in the online program. Now, over 2,000 have chosen it, including the kids of Vanderburgh County parent Liz Garcia.
"I have had my kids home since March, it feels like an eternity," Garcia laughed. "And it is going to be very difficult, but I feel like it's important for those couple reasons. Keeping all the kids safe, lessening the burden on the school district as much as I can. I feel like I should do what I'm able to do to help out."
But regardless of whether the first day of school for students starts in front of the board or in front of screens, students, staff, and parents are keeping watch over the outbreaks other communities have already dealt with.
Not just here in the Tri-State--where Wabash County, Illinois schools kept their doors open for less than a week before going online-only amid rising cases in and around Mount Carmel--but across the nation.
"UNC Chapel Hill, they've already pulled the plug and went back to virtual. I think it's just probably a matter of time before that happens, and I just want to keep that consistency with my kids, so they don't have to go back and forth. And we'll already be in the groove," Garcia added.
In Vanderburgh County, EVSC officials have spent months putting plans in place, working to keep the possibility of outbreak low.
They're adopting a localized tracing approach if infections pop up, but as of now, only time will tell as to its effectiveness.
School officials continue to watch infection rates across the Vanderburgh County communities, having already seen student-athletes test positive before they even start school.