Gwinnett County School Bus

Gwinnett County Public Schools will begin the 2019-2020 school year Monday with more than 180,000 students expected to be headed for classes this week.

Even if the calendar says there is another month and a half or so left in the season, summer essentially ends this weekend for thousands of Gwinnett County students.

Barring the unlikely event that there is any major, typically off the wall, school-canceling catastrophe that only a kid could dream of — like, say, a freak August blizzard or an unexpected alien invasion over the weekend — the 2019-2020 school year will begin Monday.

It brings with it a new school, other schools that underwent renovations and some new educational programs.

“Gwinnett County Public Schools will welcome students back on Monday, Aug. 5,” Gwinnett schools officials said in an announcement. “It’s a new year and there are many new things: new students; new teachers; new leaders; a new school; new programs; and new lunch items.”

In all, 180,204 Gwinnett students are expected to be sitting in classrooms at 141 Gwinnett County Public Schools facilities starting this week.

That is up slightly from the more than 179,000 students who were enrolled in the district during the 2018-19 school year. The Georgia Department of Education’s last official enrollment count for the district, in March, pegged the district’s student population at that time to be 179,758 pupils.

A major feature of the new school year in Gwinnett Schools is the opening of the McClure Health Science High School in Duluth. The $38.5 million school is located in the Meadowcreek cluster and focus on health science with program areas that include patient care, allied health, health informatics and advanced medicine.

Meanwhile, several renovations and expansions have been completed including: three-story additions at Lilburn Middle School and Richards Middle School; an interior build-out that added classrooms at Discovery High School; a build-out and renovation at Grayson High School; and artificial turf and new track surfaces in the stadiums at Duluth and South Gwinnett High Schools.

But the start of a new school year won’t just impact students and their parents. As district officials gathered with state law enforcement, highway safety and AAA officials to raise awareness about safety in school zones and school buses, Gwinnett County Public Schools Associate Superintendent Steve Flynt said about 133,000 students will be riding one of the district’s about 1,600 school buses.

To put that in some perspective, that means about 47,000 Gwinnett County Public Schools students will either be driving themselves, being driven by their parents or walking to school starting this week.

“There’s going to be a lot of additional buses and cars on the road,” he said. “For all of us who drive in Gwinnett County, and across the state of Georgia, we all need to be very mindful that traffic patterns are going to be much more heavy.

“Provide a little extra time. Provide extra time for you and your job or for your students traveling to school.”

I'm a Crawford Long baby who grew up in Marietta. I eventually wandered away from home and attended the University of Southern Mississippi, in Hattiesburg, Miss., where I first tried my hand at majoring in film for a couple of years. And then political sc