OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – On Wednesday, Putnam City Schools will be one of the first metro districts to welcome back students for the new year.

From addressing the state’s teacher shortage to school safety concerns, leadership says it’s ready to make the grade this year.

The halls at Putnam City High School look empty now, but when you’re there, you can feel it – they’re full of excitement.

“Our teachers and our staff are really excited,” said Jeff Bardach, Communications Director for Putnam City Schools. “Really ready to have students back in the buildings and bring that life and energy back to the hallways and the classrooms.”

The district’s 18,500 students will make their way back to school on Wednesday morning.

As the state grapples with a teacher shortage, Putnam City leadership says the district is no exception – but it is prepared.

Though they’re looking to fill a handful of vacancies, they did hire 200-300 new teachers over the summer.

“We’ve worked with administrators in each one of our buildings to make sure that they’re prepared and that no student is going to come into class on the first day of school and not have a teacher,” Bardach said. 

Of course, one thing that is top of mind is the safety of every student and faculty member who walks through the doors.

“In Putnam City, we have our own independent campus police department that has fully accredited law enforcement officers in our schools,” Bardach said. 

Additionally – all doorstops have been removed from the schools’ exterior doors throughout the district.

“Just reinforcing with our students and faculty the importance of being aware of what’s going on, being alert, making sure that all exterior doors are locked during the school day and making sure classroom doors are locked when school is in session too,” said Bardach. 

Over the summer, Putnam City made sure all of its security equipment, including its thousands of cameras were fully functional and ready for the new year.