CHICAGO — A back-to-school event offering free haircuts as kids get ready to return to the classroom is back for its 20th year, following a one-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Just to see the smiles on his face when he sees his friends, it’s been going almost two years now with school,” mother Mary Stark said.
Stark is looking forward to sending her 2nd grader back to elementary school this week, one of more than 300,000 CPS students returning to the classroom five days a week.
“My only concern is if they’re spaced out enough going to class because they’re too young to get the vaccine, so that would be my only concern is the space,” Stark said.
Masks are required in schools and CPS teachers are required to be vaccinated by October 15. Still, leaders have said they expect the adjustment to be challenging.
“Normally, there’d be a line out here, kids all over the place excited about going back to school, getting their hair cut, school supplies. This year, it’s different,” 3rd Ward Alderman Pat Dowell said.
Dowell said that has been the case at four back-to-school events she has attended over the last two weeks.
“I think rightfully so, parents are cautious about how they approach the school year,” Dowell said.
CPS and community organizations are aiming to help, offering the vaccine at this event alongside free haircuts and backpacks.
“It’s very important that CPS puts our best foot forward educating our students, and we educate our students best inside of our school buildings,” Kareem Pender of CPS said.