It’s time.

Time to wake up early.

Time to wait on the arrival of school buses.

Time for the morning traffic to increase.

Time for students to return to school.

Thomasville City Schools students returned to classes Monday. Thomas County Schools and Brookwood School students return to school Monday, Aug. 9.

Thomasville is requiring masks. Thomas County notes that masks are optional.

It would be best if both school systems, as well as area private schools and surrounding county school systems were all on the same page in requiring masks, but they are not.

School mask requirements are as different as ... well, as different as each system’s first day of school. Some extended families have some of their young relatives already in school, some starting Monday and some on a completely different day as Grady County is still a couple of weeks away. Same with masks. Some must wear them. Some won’t wear them. And others will choose to wear them.

But no matter the school or school system, masks or no masks, the return to school will dramatically change early morning traffic.

For the past several weeks, anyone who has been up and on the roads early has enjoyed having area streets and highways almost all to themselves.

If you’re a regular early-morning walker, it’s amazing how quiet the 6:30-7 a.m. hour can be during the summer.

But that changes now.

With the return to school, the streets and highways are a non-stop rush of teachers and administrators driving to work, of parents scrambling to drop off their children at schools, of big yellow school buses stopping and starting as they pick up students waiting alongside the roads.

There will no longer be anything quiet along area roads during the early morning hours.

For almost every weekday, until some other school break, there will be a roar of moving traffic, most of which is fueled by schools.

So, if you’ve been regularly driving early throughout the summer, remember traffic changes this week and even more so next week.

If you haven’t driven during the early hours since school has let out, remember to get an early start.

In addition to the increased traffic, please remember school children and students will be huddled on street corners, in driveways and on roadsides waiting for the arrival of their school buses.

It’s a lesson as simple and as powerful as something taught in kindergarten: Watch out for one another. On the roads. And in schools ... remember, no one is saying you can’t wear masks. Make the right choices.

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