Philly district’s back-to-school events begin this week

Parents and children line up at last year’s back-to-school bus tour stop at Jardel Recreation Center.
Metro file

Though some may not want summer break to end, the first day of school for School District of Philadelphia students is less than a month away.

In anticipation of the start of school — Aug. 29 for the district, by the way — the city’s public school system is launching a bus tour with a series of events aimed at getting children and families ready for the academic year.

The first stop will be a pop-up event from noon to 2 p.m. Monday at Bridesburg Recreation Center, where parents will be able to get a free backpack with school supplies, register their child for school and sign up for the district’s parent portal.

“Meeting students and families where they are is critical for school engagement, so I’m thrilled that the tour will be bringing crucial resources directly to families in neighborhoods across the city,” new Superintendent Tony Watlington Sr. said in a statement.

Additional pop-ups will be held Wednesday from noon to 2 p.m. at J. Finnegan Playground; Aug. 8 from noon to 2 p.m. at Water Tower Recreation Center; Aug. 9 from 10 a.m. to noon at Widener Memorial School; Aug. 12 from noon to 2 p.m. at Overbrook Education Center and Aug. 18 from noon to 2 p.m. at Hayes Recreation Center.

Mayor Jim Kenney speaks Monday, Aug. 9, 2021, at a back-to-school event at Jardel Recreation Center in Northeast Philadelphia.Jack Tomczuk

At four larger events, families will be able to bring students to get free state-mandated immunizations, COVID-19 vaccines and sports physicals, in addition to the resources provided at the pop-ups.

Food trucks, ice cream and activities for children will also be available at the “mega-events,” the first of which will occur Friday at the Northeast High School sports complex.

The others will be held Aug. 10 at the South Philadelphia Supersite (1166 Bigler St.); Aug. 16 at the Edison High School fields; and Aug. 20 at the High School of the Future. All mega-events will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Families can pre-register their children for immunizations at the events by going to

All public school students are required to get five doses of the Diphtheria, Tetanus and Pertussis (DTaP) vaccine; four doses of the Polio vaccine; two doses of the Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine; three doses of the Hepatitis B vaccine; and two doses of the Varicella vaccine.

Seventh graders also must receive the Tetanus, Diphtheria and Pertussis (TDaP) vaccine and the Meningococcal Conjugate (MCV4) vaccine, and high school seniors are required to have a second MCV4 dose.

Parents can apply for medical, religious or philosophical exemptions.

For more information on how to obtain vaccinations outside of the mega-events, visit and click the immunizations tab.