Back-to-school fairs, with plenty of freebies, help get families ready for school

Book bags given out at a midstate Back 2 School Bash, seen in this 2012 file photo, contained school supplies such as paper, pencils, pens, composition books and crayons, depending on the grade of the child.
Book bags given out at a midstate Back 2 School Bash, seen in this 2012 file photo, contained school supplies such as paper, pencils, pens, composition books and crayons, depending on the grade of the child. wmarshall@macon.com

With the first day of school right around the corner, it’s time for parents to start checking off their to-do lists.

Also, it’s the season for back-to-school events, where students can get everything from haircuts to free backpacks and school supplies.

Bibb County parents should be sure to review dress codes, school supply lists and immunization requirements for their child’s school before classes resume, which is Aug. 1. Each child planning to ride the bus to school must also be registered for transportation services for the school year.

Houston County parents can find supply lists and dress codes on the district’s website. Houston County schools start back Aug. 2.

It’s important that parents make sure their children are up to date on all immunizations before school starts.

“The school can give the child 30 days after the beginning of the school year to get up to date,” said Michael Hokanson, the public information officer for the North Central Health District. “After that, they would have to be excluded from school.”

Only children with medical or religious exemptions aren’t required to be vaccinated.

Across the district, compliance rates for immunizations have been high, Hokanson said. Children entering kindergarten in 2016 had a compliance rate of 98.8 percent. Children entering seventh grade in 2016 had a compliance rate of 98.3 percent. (If you want to know which vaccines your child needs, go to the state Department of Health website.)

Making preparation easier

Back-to-school events in Bibb and Houston counties are helping parents get ready for the school year.

The Macon-Bibb County Health Department will host a carnival from 2-6 p.m. Thursday at 171 Emery Highway.

Children with up-to-date immunizations and those who need them will receive free backpacks while supplies last, and children can get all the immunizations and health screenings there. There will also be drawings for bicycles, and school supplies, popcorn and snow cones will be given to children who visit at least five event partners.

The eighth annual Houston County Back2School Bash will be held Friday, July 21, from 9 a.m. to noon at Watson Primary School.

Free backpacks with school supplies will be given away at the event. There will be free haircuts, food, games and information booths.

The Positive Behavior and Support Program will host a Bibb County back-to-school bash for the first time in five years. The event will be held Wednesday, July 26, from 2-6 p.m. at 2003 Riverside Drive.

“One of the sole reasons we decided to do the bash is to ... provide (parents) with resources at their fingertips to help remove ... barriers so they can get that solid foundation,” said Curlandra Smith, the district’s PBIS coordinator.

Representatives of more than 30 organizations will be attending the event, including the school system’s transportation department, the Ingram-Pye Health Center, 100 Black Men of Macon-Middle Georgia, and River Edge Behavioral Health Center.

District employees will be at the event to help parents sign up for Parent Portal, a system used to help them keep track of their children’s progress in school.

The Ingram-Pye Health Center will provide physicals and health care exams for students. While the center will not provide immunizations at the event, it will print required immunization forms for parents to have immunizations done at Ingram-Pye.

Free school supplies and uniforms will also be given out at the event, while supplies last.

“It’s going to be a fun-filled event,” Smith said. “There will be special guests, music. ...We hope it sets the tone and a positive climate for our district so families know they’re not (facing) the beginning of school on their own.”

Next week, Beulahland Bible Church will also hold a back-to-school giveaway on July 29 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The event will be held at Miller Elementary School in Warner Robins and Southfield Elementary School in Macon.