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IPS parents pick up free backpacks amid questions about school year

The back-to-school festival at the Children's Museum of Indianapolis included donated backpacks as well as school uniforms for families in need.

INDIANAPOLIS — IPS parents lined up for blocks to pick up free backpacks Monday as questions swirl around the start of the school year. 

All 10,000 backpacks, which were full of school supplies, were donated by attorney John Hensley. 

"It's been a tough go for a lot of people this last year, so... just felt there was a need out there," said Hensley.

Parents could also get free school uniforms, which were also donated.

"We're truly blessed to have the backpacks, for real. It's a help to me, 'cause I'm struggling right now," said Angel Price, the parent of an IPS student.

"It helps a lot with everything the way it's been. I've lost two jobs because of  the pandemic, so everything's tight," said IPS parent Christina Eldridge. 

RELATED: IPS hosting drive-thru 'Back-to-school Festival' Monday

The back-to-school festival at the Children's Museum of Indianapolis was held two weeks before school starts for Indianapolis students. Unlike last year, classes will start in person with two virtual options.

As of Monday, parents were still waiting to hear what COVID protocols might be in place and whether kids will have to wear masks.

"I can't get the school to answer the phone to find out, but we already have all those set up for school. If they have to wear them, they're going to wear them," said Eldridge.

IPS has been working closely with the Marion County Health Department on protocols. 13News asked director Dr. Virginia Caine last week if masks might be required.

"I can probably tell you we will not have a requirement, we will have guidance and recommendations for the school systems," she said.

An IPS spokesperson said an announcement about masks could come as early as Tuesday.

RELATED: COVID-19 mobile unit aims to drive up vaccination rate

"We'll be making sure to communicate that information very soon, here in the next day or two, so families can make those preparations, those next steps to get ready for the school year," said Ashley Scott with IPS.

Aiven Williams, a soon-to-be sixth grader, said he was OK either way with masks. 

"Some people are saying when we go back to school we might not have to wear a mask. I'm not going to be sure on that. I'm still going to wear a mask, just in case," said Williams.