Chicago: Options for Parents During Teachers Strike

Chicago public school officials now say half of the schools in the system will be open Monday from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., after the CTU said Sunday it had failed to reach an agreement that would prevent a strike.

Breakfast will be served, and students will have two, 55-minute activity periods during the day. Lunch will also be served, after which the students will be dismissed.

Separate facilities will be provided for elementary school students, high school students and special education students. The students will be assigned to schools closest to their homes.

The strike will affect about 400,000 students. District officials said Thursday they have also designated 60 churches as safe havens where children may go during the day.

Faith leaders from across the country announced their plan to open a number of churches to students if a teachers strike occurs.

At a press conference last Thursday morning, several pastors at West Point Church addressed contract talks between the Chicago Teachers Union and Chicago Public Schools.

They are upset that both parties are "playing political games on the back of our children," and announced they are opening their church doors to provide a safe haven for children.

"We're here to let CPS and CTU know we're not taking sides, but the church has always been in the forefront," Pastor Walter Turner said.

The faith leaders also showed support for Chicago schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard for the work he has been doing.

The churches will operate the Safe Haven program from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. every day during the strike. Students will receive free breakfast and lunch and will have the chance to engage in workshops as well as arts and crafts activities.

1. Children First Sites - Strategic School Openings

• Locations: CPS will open 144 schools – 115 Elementary and 29 High Schools

* Sites are selected based on the size and location of the building, with preference given to those with strong leadership, air conditioning, a gym and cafeteria, computer labs and proximity to public transportation.

* Elementary and high school students will attend separate designated facilities to address their unique needs.

• Hours: 8:30am – 12:30pm Monday – Friday

• Staffing: Sites will staffed by teachers aides, paraprofessionals (e.g. speech pathologists), the schools' food service workers, existing school employees, redeployed CPS staff and non-profit organizations at a ratio of 1:25.

• Programming: While instruction will not be provided, students will participate in positive activities to keep them engaged, including independent reading and writing, arts and journaling, sports activities, and computer-based programming.

* Breakfast at the schools will be served from 8:30 a.m. to 9:15 a.m.

* Students will have two 55-minute activity blocks during the day.

* Lunch will be served from 11:50 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., after which they will be dismissed.

• Registration: Online with student ID or by phone to 311. Students will be assigned to the site closest to their home address.

* Students with special needs will be accommodated at every Children First site.

• Food: Nutrition services (breakfast and lunch) will be offered at each site free of charge to all students.

• Safety: CPS Office of Safety and Security (OSS) has coordinated the safety and security of every Children First and non-Children First site utilizing CPS School Security personnel, Chicago Police Department, Safe Passage workers and crossing guards.

• Cost: Cost will not be known until student participation numbers are determined.

2. Safe Haven Churches

59 churches will continue the "Safe Haven, Safe Summer" program to provide CPS students with structured activities in a safe space while out of school. Churches started announcing this Sunday that they will be open if strike happens.

• Locations: 59 churches

• Hours: 8:30am – 2pm

• Staffing: Church pastors and volunteers

• Programming: Assistance with college applications, arts and crafts, and social and emotional learning programs.

• Registration: Parents must register their children on site.

• Food: Breakfast and lunch will be provided by Catholic Charities

3. Additional City of Chicago Support

Sister agencies will supplement the school openings to keep students safe and engaged.

* Chicago Park District

• Locations: 78 park locations

• Hours: Half-day programs from 8:30am – 12:30pm Monday – Friday, half-day programs from 12:30pm – 3:30pm Monday – Friday, and full-day programs from 8:30am – 3:30pm Monday – Friday

• Staffing: Existing park program staff, redeployed management staff and volunteers (via Chicago Cares)

• Programming: "Play at the Park" program, a supervised recreational camp program that serves children ages 6-12.

Students will participate in camp type activities such as sports, arts, and nature activities.

• Registration: Parents must register children in person at the program site.

• Food: Students will have to bring their own food. However, shelf-stable snacks may be provided in some locations.

* Chicago Public Libraries

• Locations: 76 library facilities will be open to students

• Hours: All library facilities will maintain their operating hours and be available for student use.

• Staffing: Current library staff and volunteers (via Chicago Cares)

• Programming: Students can access books, magazines, and online learning opportunities to mitigate learning loss.

• High School Seniors will be prioritized for computer use to take advantage of online courses

• Registration: No registration process. Students under the age of 7 must be accompanied by an adult.

• Food: Students will be allowed to eat healthy snacks in the libraries, but they will have to bring their own.

* CTA, Fire, Police, and OEMC will have a safety plan in place to ensure the safety of students and families as they travel to and from available options.

• CPD will deploy police officers in schools to supplement CPS security staff assigned to school sites.

• Each day, CPD will support setting and maintaining a clear path/lane for students and staff to arrive

• Support in maintaining a calm and safe environment for everyone, including students, staff and protesters

• CPD will use existing patrols to maintain a calm and peaceful environment on the exterior of sites.

• Safe Passage vendors will continue to support CPS students in the event of a strike

• Safe Passage vendors currently support high school students as they travel to and from school

• Safe Passage community watchers will monitor routes around Children First sites

• CTA will continue to monitor train and bus stations with their CTA security officers

• Additional cars have been committed, and CTA is augmenting existing routes as necessary to ease student access to Children First sites

• Should CTU choose to strike, CTA will provide free rides for CPS students from noon to 6pm Monday through Friday to facilitate travel to and from schools, parks, libraries and other sites.

• OEMC will support CPS by continuing to monitor sites where there is camera access

• 311 will take calls from parents and students to learn about Children First options and help register students.

4. Online Education Options for High School Seniors

In order for our Seniors to not fall off-track for college, Seniors will be eligible to continue their studies via online coursework in credit recovery, Advanced Placement (AP) or non-credit bearing General Elective classes.

• Seniors that begin a course may continue the course after the CTU strike is over.

• CPS has also developed a Parent Resources guide with links to age-appropriate online educational resources for non-Seniors.

Registration: Seniors should register for online courses at Upon verification of senior status and eligibility, students will be issued login-credentials and instructions by email to access online courses. Parents, students and site staff should monitor each student's work and progress via electronic reporting and an online portal.

5. Additional Support by Community-Based Organizations

Nonprofit and out-of-school time organizations will extend hours and offer programs for students:

• 65 out-of-school time partner agencies who already work with the Department of Family Support Services will offer programming

• 10 Boys and Girls Clubs will offer programming for students from 9am-3pm, provided families pay a $20 fee for a one-year membership

• 9 YMCA sites will offer programming for students from 7am-6pm, regardless of whether families are YMCA members on a first-come, first-served basis

• 10 Salvation Army sites will offer programming for students

* The new Kroc Center will serve students from 9am-3pm

• 3 Family Focus sites will offer programming for students

• 20 DFSS-funded childcare providers will extend their half-day programming to a full day.

6. Chicago Cares is serving as the volunteer management organization for volunteers as part of a coordinated Children First plan.

• To volunteer at a Park, Library or non-profit site, register online at

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