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Back-to-school events in Tampa Bay: free health screenings, supplies, more

From shopping to one last day of fun, organizers are planning numerous events to ring in the 2021-22 school year.
Classroom supplies will be distributed as part of several local back-to-school events in preparation for the 2021-22 school year.
Classroom supplies will be distributed as part of several local back-to-school events in preparation for the 2021-22 school year. [ Times (2009) ]
Published Jul. 30
Updated Aug. 2

BACK TO SCHOOL 2021 | Click to scroll down for more

With the first day of school approaching, the malls, schools, local organizations are getting ready with special events. Some are open to all, others are for specific counties. Here’s an area-wide roundup of what’s happening:

Bullard Foundation Back to School Bash: Thaddeus Bullard, better known as WWE star Titus O’Neil, is hosting this event with a special appearance by rap star Flo Rida, who will introduce a “battle of the bands” featuring some of the area’s best high school bands. The event, sponsored by the Bullard Foundation, Advent Health, the Bucs and the Lightning will offer physicals, eye exams, haircuts, food and fun at Raymond James Stadium for Hillsborough County students in grades K-12. Organizers will be giving out 30,000 backpacks with school supplies while supplies last. The event is intended for Title 1 schools and children in need and it runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 7. 4201 N Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa.

Countryside Mall Back-to-School Bash: The fourth annual Back-to-School Bash features free backpacks to the first 250 kids, more than 50 vendors, appearances by mascots from the Tampa Bay Rays and Tampa Bay Lightning, entertainment, face painting and an interactive scavenger hunt for free school supplies. Free. 10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 7. Westfield Countryside Mall, 27001 U.S. 19 N, Clearwater. 727-674-1464.

Lazydays back-to-school bash: The RV resort will end the summer with a back-to-school party featuring poolside bingo with prizes on Friday and a movie on the lawn with popcorn and lemonade provided. On Saturday there will be a water tag tournament, obstacle course, DJ-hosted pool party, crafts and a neon paint party. Camping sites start at $39.99 at lazydays.com. Various times Friday-Saturday, Aug. 6-7. Lazydays RV Resort, 6210 County Road 579, Seffner. 855-335-7954.

University Town Center Back-to-School Bash — Sarasota: The fourth annual Back-to-School Bash features free backpacks to the first 250 kids, more than 50 vendors, appearances by mascots from the Tampa Bay Rays and Tampa Bay Lightning, entertainment, face painting and an interactive scavenger hunt for free school supplies Free. 10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 7. The Mall at University Town Center, 140 University Town Center Drive, Sarasota. 727-674-1464.

Tampa Premium Outlets Back-to-School Bash — Lutz: The fourth annual Back-to-School Bash features free backpacks to the first 250 kids, more than 50 vendors, appearances by mascots from the Tampa Bay Rays and Tampa Bay Lightning, entertainment, face painting and an interactive scavenger hunt for free school supplies Free. 10 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 8. Tampa Premium Outlets, 2300 Grand Cypress Drive, Lutz. 727-674-1464.

Free Pinellas school immunizations and physicals: Pinellas County students ages 18 and younger can get free back-to-school physicals and more at health department clinics at Boca Ciega, Gibbs, Largo and Pinellas Park high schools. Services include physicals, basic dental care, vision/hearing screenings and any needed immunizations, including COVID-19 shots. To make an appointment, call 727-249-7591. Free. 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday through Aug. 10. Boca Ciega High School, 924 58th St. S, Gulfport. 727-824-6900.

Back-to-school break: Kids ages 5 to 17 can celebrate the new school year with games, contests and prizes. Free. 3:30-6 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 4. Daisy Douglas Park, 601 Ninth Ave. N, Safety Harbor. 727-724-1545.

School supply giveaway: The Delta Omicron Sigma Crescent Foundation is offering students their choice of five free school supplies. Registration on Eventbrite required. Free. 6-8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 6. Gladden Park and Center, 3901 30th Ave. N, St. Petersburg. 727-893-7458.

Back-to-School Jam: The nonprofit Vital Vibes, which aims to help those struggling with mental illness and recovery, is hosting a Back-to-School Jam. There will be a book bag and school supplies giveaway, live music and food. A portion of proceeds goes to the Dawn Center for domestic violence. Free. 12:30-5:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 7. The Deuces Corner, 833 22nd St. S, St. Petersburg.

Back-2-School Hillsborough Health Clinic: The Back-to-School Coalition of Hillsborough County’s Health Clinics offer students entering kindergarten through high school grades free physicals, vision/hearing screenings and immunizations (including COVID-19). Masks are required and children must be accompanied by one parent or guardian. Appointments are required to reduce crowd sizes. Register online at backtoschoolhealthclinic.org. Free. 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 7. Children’s Board of Hillsborough County, 1002 E Palm Ave., Tampa. 813-276-5671.

School supplies drive-thru: Members of underserved communities can prepare their families for the school year at this completely drive-thru free school supply distribution. Children must be in the vehicle at time of pick-up. Free. 10 a.m.-noon Saturday, Aug. 7. Drive-thru Location is 1441 E Fletcher Ave., Tampa.

School night meals — a tutorial: Parents can learn quick, simple and healthy meals that are easy to get to the table on a school night. Meals include lasagna, soup and salad, cheeseburger casserole, roasted garlic chicken and rice, and Greek salad with oven-roasted chicken. Open to those 18 and older only. $50. 10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 7. Publix Apron Cooking School of Citrus Park, 7835 Gunn Highway, Tampa. 813-926-4465.

Back-to-school festival: Bring the family to celebrate the return of the school year at this festival with food, bounce houses, free haircuts, vendors and a free backpack to the first 300 kids. Get free tickets on Eventbrite. Free. 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 7. Celebration Church, 16235 Lake Magdalene Blvd., Tampa. 813-961-0910.

Back to School Blast: A free community, family-friendly, alcohol-free event with inflatables, games and concession-style food for just $1. The evening will end with professional fireworks. 6-9 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 8. Fellowship Baptist Church, 13515 U.S. Highway 301 N, Thonotosassa. 813-982-1000.

Hernando back-to-school bash backpack giveaway: Hernando County students can go to Verizon Wireless and pick up a free backpack. 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Aug. 1. Verizon Wireless, 7272 Broad St., Brooksville. 352-796-9919.

Backpack giveaway: Low-income Hernando County families can prepare their children for school with free backpacks at this drive-thru event. Free. 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 7. Tom Varn Park, 306 Darby Lane, Brooksville.

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More back-to-school coverage

A NEW START: Masks will be voluntary and activities will return, but the pandemic is still with us.

GETTING A SHOT: Most area school districts send a strong message to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.

LESSONS LEARNED: The pandemic forced schools to take a more digital approach. Some of it will stay.

HOW WE’RE FEELING: Tampa Bay parents and kids talk about the school year ahead.

DISCOUNT DAYS: This year’s back-to-school tax “holiday” lasts 10 days.

MEET THE PRINCIPALS: Many area schools will start the year with new leaders.

SIGNING UP: Registering a child for school for the first time can involve many steps. What you need to know.

MARK THE DATE: Highlights of the 2021-22 school year in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco and Hernando counties.

BY THE NUMBERS: Tampa Bay’s four public school districts at a glance.