Chicago unveils Safe Passage routes for CPS students

August 9, 2013 (CHICAGO)

CPS Safe Passage Map

Displaced students from about 50 closed schools will be going to new buildings for the new school year. The city says it's ready with safe passage signs, updated sidewalks and 600 safe passage workers in yellow vests.

This is one passageway here in West Town, near Otis Elementary. Betsy Rodriguez's son attends the school and she welcomes the changes.

"I think people shy away from areas that are highly-populated with security and neighbors, and I think that everybody's really vigilant," said Betsy Rodriguez, parent.

"You can never be too safe, especially in the city, no matter what neighborhood you're in, I think there's always a concern. But in terms of Noble Square and West Town, from my experience, it's been completely safe," said Charlie Hobart, resident.

But some critics say safe passage could be a false sense of security. The part-time workers selected from the community are not armed cops.

"Like safe passage plans that we've had in the past, they will be amended. They're not embedded in stone, and we do this every day with the existing safe passages. And that is, it is a daily communication and daily opportunity, where we know there may be an incident, we trust the Chicago Police Department and our safety and security to make sure that we are informed and updated, regularly, actually, it's every single day," said Barbara Byrd-Bennett, CEO, CPS.

The city developed the network of safe passage routes following meetings with parents, teachers, community groups and Chicago police. The safe passage routes cover seven schools on the North Side, 19 on the West Side and 26 on the South Side -- all for kids from the 50 schools that were recently closed.

Safe passage workers will call police if they have any issues, but if there is a life-threatening issue, they will be allowed to step in.

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