SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – It’s the last weekend of summer vacation for families in the Savannah-Chatham County Public School System. On Sunday, the district held its annual Back to School Expo to help prepare students and parents before the start of the new school year on Wednesday.

Enthusiasm is in the air as nearly 40,000 students get ready to head back to the classroom.

“I’m in the same class with my best friend so I’m actually very happy,” said Sonaia Henderson, an incoming 5th grader.

School district leaders say they’re just as excited to welcome students back.

“It’s the start of school so you can hardly sleep, you want everything to go really really well,” said Superintendent Dr. Ann Levett. “And for so many of our families they are ready for the children to return to school and we are ready to receive them. So we’re excited, always a little nervous.”

The district’s annual event serves as a one-stop shop for families to register, pick up uniforms, get vaccinations or visit with the 55 schools in the system. For many parents, there are a lot of questions about COVID-19 policies this school year.

“What we want them to know is masks are optional,” Levett said. “But we encourage families, staff, community members to wear masks. During the surge, it’s really important to protect ourselves because we want to stay open. And we stay open when we are healthy.”

Transportation and the changes to applying for free or reduced lunch is also top of mind for parents.

With the countdown on for the 2022-2023 school year, district officials hope Sunday’s event gave students and parents an extra boost of confidence and preparation.

“Every year, it’s like a soft hand-off with parents transferring their children back into school,” said parent Naima Henderson. “It’s a good little segue.”

Due to an air conditioning issue at the Savannah Mall, schools had to leave the expo two hours early. The superintendent said families will have another chance to ask questions at open houses, which begin on Sunday.