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A few hiccups but mostly smooth sailing as HISD students head back to school

Many districts, including Houston ISD, started school while continuing to deal with teacher shortages and other issues.

HOUSTON, Texas — HISD, the largest school district in Texas, is back in session. We tagged along as the superintendent visited a number of campuses on Monday.

"First and foremost, a simple welcome back,” Houston ISD superintendent Millard House II said at Burrus Elementary.

Burrus and Marshall Middle were House's first two stops on the first day of school for nearly 200,000 students.

“There’s generally some hiccups and they’re going to be hiccups from time to time, peaks and valleys," House said.  But what’s most important is our students in HISD are back in the hallways of our buildings.”

House said about 5% of classrooms are without a certified teacher as the new year begins. But substitutes and even central office staff are helping fill the gaps.

Meantime, adjustments are being made by the transportation department to handle the staffing shortages there.

On a positive note, House touted, among other things, recent academic achievements at many schools.

"We’re excited to have our kids back in the arms’ reach of our teachers,” he said.

Making sure students are safe was among the top concerns of parents in KHOU’s back-to-school survey.

RELATED: Back-to-school survey for parents: What are your questions/concerns?

RELATED: HISD parents prepare for new school year; district still hiring for several positions

We spoke with House one-on-one about that during a stop at Sharpstown High and he said it's his top priority.

"Safety and security is number one," House said. "A child can’t learn if they don’t feel safe.”

House told us new rifles, ballistic shields and two-way radios recently approved by the board should arrive within the next few months depending on the type of equipment.

Those are all things he hoped will never be needed.

Other districts returning Monday included Cy-Fair ISD, the second-largest district in our area, Lamar CISD and Galveston ISD.

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