CPS strike contingency plan taking shape

September 8, 2012 11:32:24 PM PDT
Chicago Public Schools has a contingency plan called Children First if there is a strike.

144 schools will open to students from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. each day.

Parents must sign their children up on the district website beforehand. If they have no internet access, they should call 311.

CPS will not provide transportation to the schools.

CPS is encouraging parents to first find another alternative for their children, maybe grandparents or another relative who can babysit.

For those who do not have that option the Children First sites will be up and running and every cps student will be assigned a location within their community, but CPS says not to expect these sights to provide a regular school day.

"Unlike other parents, I do have my mother who can help out with them while the strike goes on, but I do hope that something is negotiated," said parent Gladys Calderon.

Hyde Park's Ray School is one of 144 Children First sites that CPS is establishing all over Chicago to ensure that students without a place to go, are safe and off the streets during school hours when parents are at work.

"The staff, the kids, the parents, nobody wants this," said Ray School Principal Tatia Beckwith. "The board doesn't want this either. But we're just preparing. We want to be ready to go, no matter what happens."

If there is a strike, Children First will serve breakfast and lunch. Beckwith spent the day organizing supplies, crayons, notebooks and the like, for kids to use, in case there is a strike.

"This is not school, we're not having class," she said. "So we're having other activities, kids might consider them fun, so we're preparing those kinds of things for the classrooms."

In addition to the Children First sites, 60 churches and other faith-based organizations, which already act as safe havens in the after-school hours, will open their doors during the morning and early afternoon. New Life Pilsen Church is one of those places.

"We believe we need a safe place for children to be during this violent time," said New Life Pilsen Pastor Robert Belfort. "We're going to be open every day of the strike from 8:30 (a.m.) to 2 p.m. to give parents a little more time."

Registration for these programs is also free, and available on a first come, first serve basis. Space, however, is much more limited than at CPS sites.


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