LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Hundreds of thousands of kids returned to school on Monday as Los Angeles Unified School District opened its new year.
The district has relaxed some of the COVID protocols from last year. Mask wearing and weekly testing are no longer required, though face coverings while indoors are still strongly encouraged.
Students who may have been exposed to someone with COVID will no longer have to quarantine the way they were required to in the past.
Students might also notice more teachers on their campus this year. The district hired more than 1,500 trained teachers this school year - that's more qualified educators in the classroom in more than a decade.
Still, Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said with the average district teacher making $80,000 a year, recruitment remains challenging.
"I don't think our society currently respects teachers as much as they should," he said. "We've been able to absorb any cost increases towards health care, not passing any additional cost increases to employees. That's fantastic. We are at the table negotiating a favorable contract for teachers."
Even so, Carvalho added recruiting teachers is hard when you consider the cost of living in Los Angeles.
Officials are also hoping to keep kids safe in other ways. Police officials reminded parents and drivers there would be a lot more cars on the roads Monday and more kids walking to school.
That means driving slowly while near schools and being prepared for heavier traffic.
Statistics indicate the leading cause of death for children under 14 is vehicle accidents.
"It is back to school," said LAPD Capt. Andrew Neiman. "There's gonna be a lot more traffic. So even if you don't have kids, give yourself more time to get back to work or wherever you have to go tomorrow. Because the roads are gonna be probably two-thirds more crowded than they normally are."