CHICAGO (WLS) --Chicago Public Schools has opened 250 contingency sites for students during the one-day teachers strike on April 1st. The sites will keep students "safe, fed and engaged" during the strike, a CPS release stated.
The sites are located throughout the city so families have a place to go if they cannot keep their children at home or find childcare. Still, the district urges families that can make alternate arrangements to take advantage of other options, as April 1st will not count towards student attendance.
Students at contingency sites will be provided with online learning opportunities, physical education and arts and crafts. All students will be provided with free breakfast and lunch. The Chicago Transit Authority will provide students with free transportation to and from contingency sites Friday.
The sites comprise of 107 CPS schools, 80 Chicago Park District facilities, all 80 Chicago Public Library locations and numerous Safe Haven locations.
"Whenever school's out, libraries are in action. We really believe that all out of school times are important learning opportunities for kids," said Liz McChesney, director of children's services for Chicago Public Library.
All 80 Chicago public libraries are official alternative sites for CPS students. Library staff was already ready with extra activities for spring break, and now plan to add even more on Friday.
"We will have computer time, new media will be open for teens. School-age kids have opportunities for drop-in activities around STEM, with activities like making circuit kits," McChesney said.
"We saw it just like everyone else in Chicagoan saw it, and we just came up with our plan," said Alonzo Williams, chief program officer, Chicago Park District.
The Chicago Park District will have about a third of park district sites available to extra activities the Friday.
"Very similar to our after-school program and our daycare program, we just do a mini version of that. But it's arts, it's crafts, it obviously is sports and other fun-based activities," Williams said.
A complete list of sites can be found here: http://www.CPS.edu/April1. Parents may also call 311 for information on sites.
CPS says that teachers are welcome in their classrooms or can report to a CPS contingency site. CPS Central Office staff also will be deployed to schools to assist at contingency sites, according to the release.
Meanwhile, the Chicago Teachers Union says members who cross picket lines Friday when teachers plan to shut public schools could owe the union a day's pay.
The CTU planned to walkout to bring attention to education funding and contract issues. CPS officials say a walkout would be illegal because it isn't in line with the state-mandated process for a teachers strike. CPS faces a $1.1-billion budget deficit and has no contract with the union.