KANSAS CITY, Kan. — The first wave of Kansas City-area students returned to school Wednesday, but districts are still getting creative to address staffing shortages.

The Turner School District is among them, but they’re meeting the challenges.

It was the first day for students with the Turner, Piper and Eudora school districts. At Junction Elementary, entire families were ready to get back to a routine. School was back in session for 1st through 5th graders who had a fun first half-day.

“I don’t know who was smiling more this morning, the parents or the kids,” said Lauren Aiello, Turner School District’s director of public relations.

Like many schools, Turner is seeing a shortage in support staff — cafeteria workers, paras and bus drivers, according to Aiello.

To make do, Turner consolidated bus routes. Some students will walk a bit farther to their bus stop. Aiello said it’s no more than a couple blocks. 

“Overall, the feedback from parents has been very understanding and, you know, they know that we just want to make it that we can continue providing that free transportation for all students,” Aiello said.

Junction Elementary retained all teachers last year, according to Principal Christina Compton. But overall in the district, there are still some open classroom positions; long-term subs are filling in for now.

Turner is hoping to hire new faces through December recruitment to teach these eager students.

“I’m 7 years old. I’m in second grade, and it’s so far fun,” Dylen Neuendorf said.

“We went outside, and I got to hang out with my friends,” 9-year-old brother Zack Neuendorf said.

Recess and lunch continue to be fan favorites among students. 

Last year, Turner struggled with food supply due to the pandemic. This year, that’s not a problem, Aiello said.

Compton said it’s good to be back to normal, hugs and all.

“Thank you for trusting us with your kids. We love them as much as you do,” Compton said. “I’m sure you’re ready for the break and we’re ready to have them back.”

Kindergarten through 6th grade have another half day Thursday while 7th through 12th graders are slated for a full day of school. On Friday, all grades are back to school for a full day.

📲 Download the FOX4 News app to stay updated on the go.
📧 Sign up for FOX4 email alerts to have breaking news sent to your inbox.
💻 Find today’s top stories on fox4kc.com for Kansas City and all of Kansas and Missouri.