HOUSTON – Most Houston-area kids headed back to school early Monday.

Drivers are advised to use caution, especially in school zones.

There are several key differences this year. High schoolers will have to choose between several certification plans, including business, arts, and public service.

In addition, healthier snacks will be available in both lunch lines and vending machines.

And in the Houston Independent School District, lunch is free at 166 campuses as part of the expansion of a federal pilot program. The meals will be free regardless of income, no application is required. HISD says the free meals are part of the growth of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.

On Sept. 9, the school district will launch a new emergency text message service for parents. To sign up for the service, simply text "YES" to 68453 from each cell phone on which you wish to receive text messages.

Lastly, anyone in HISD with questions or concerns about school bus routes can call 713-613-3040.

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