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CHICAGO — With just hours to go before Chicago Public Schools welcomes back students, back-to-school preparations were on the minds of many.

At House of Hedera’s beauty salon in Chicago, hair stylists offered more than 100 children haircuts. Time is essential as students return to the classroom two weeks earlier than in years past. The Washington Heights business was one of the salons and barbershops helping students get ready to walk school halls again.

Anti-violence organization Acclivus started the tradition more than 20 years ago. In addition to haircuts, kids also received backpacks, school supplies and gift cards to help pay for school uniforms.

Last week, CPS unveiled a safety plan in response to the mass shooting tragedies in Uvalde and Highland Park. The district conducted its first active shooter drill since 2018. The project also includes a $22 million investment in the ‘Safe Passage’ program and a $10 million contract with CPD to put officers in more than 40 schools.

Parents WGN News spoke with on Sunday said they are looking forward to a year of full classrooms and fewer COVID disruptions. CPS is no longer mandating masks but will make weekly testing available. Additionally, students exposed to the virus will no longer have to quarantine unless they test positive.

New protocols aside, kindergartner Oubri Muhummas says she is ready for a unique experience amid a new school year.

“Fun,” she said when asked what she thought about the new school year.