BOUNTIFUL, Utah (ABC4) – The Davis County School District is welcoming thousands of students back to school Monday, without masks, but the district is encouraging students to wear them.

Boulton Elementary School, in Bountiful, welcomed students back with a cheer but some students had mixed emotions.

“There were a lot of jitters and a lot of excitement,” Mindy Layton continues. “We have a mask in her backpack we will have to see, I will let her self select.”

The school district says each school is reminding students to stay home when sick, practice physical distancing, and use proper hygiene etiquette.

Out of the 70,000 students returning to school, roughly 21,000 rely on the bus, where masks may not be optional, and there are not enough drivers.

“Davis, like all of the districts is experiencing a bus driver shortage, as well as a Special-Ed assistance shortage,” explains Director of Transportation Shawna Cragun. “We have fifteen routes that are not covered at all today.”

The district says COVID-19 has impacted bus drivers especially hard. The district says on Monday 16 bus drivers called in sick today with COVID-19, and say the are in need of about more 30 drivers.

“A majority of our bus drivers are retirees or stay at home moms we do have a lot of college students,” Cragun shares.