CHICAGO (WLS) -- Popcorn, cotton candy, backpacks, face masks, and free vaccines are all part of Chicago Public Schools' back to school bashes.
Parents and kids lined up on the city's Southwest Side for Friday's party.
"I'm really excited to do full time this year, even if it has to be socially distant," said CPS student Elena Colemnero. "I'm glad to see all my classmates again."
With an August 30 start date, CPS is starting the school year before Labor Day for the first time. Back to school events are ways for the district to make sure families know about the early start date and to expect full-time in-person learning, despite rising COVID cases.
"It's super scary wondering how things are going to pan out, but we hope and trust our school is doing what they do," said Veronica O'Malley, CPS parent.
Several parents said safety is a big concern as they send their kids back.
"Everybody is not a scientist, I feel like we should follow the scientists and let them to their job for the safety of kids and everyone else," said Vincent Moore.
Besides the bashes, CPS is also spending financial resources on finding the tens of thousands of kids who didn't show up for school last year.
Interim CPS CEO Jose Torres said door-to-door visits looking for students has been challenging.
"We've attempted home visits and the address is wrong, or they don't live there anymore or too scared to open the door," he said.
The effort will continue, and there will be more back to school bashes.