CPS students, parents visit welcoming schools before school year begins

August 20, 2013 (CHICAGO)

On Tuesday, some students and their parents visited their new schools. Constance Williamson guides her three children by the hand as she walks them to what will soon be their new school, Englewood's Mays Elementary. Their old one was closed by school officials.

"This is closer. And I think it will have more experience with teaching, because, at that school, Hensen, they weren't learning anything," said Constance Williamson, parent.

Parents registering their kids at Mays on Tuesday were welcomed by volunteers painting and sprucing up the area. As a welcoming school, Mays Elementary is one of 51 schools with new safe passage routes that are meant to get kids to and from school safely. Warsheka Griffin drives her kids to school, but welcomes the new safe passage routes and the new students.

"We just have to stay together as parents, as a community, to get our kids back and forth safe and sound," said Warsheka Griffin, parent.

On the West Side, Hughes School in Lawndale is also a welcoming school. But even for parents of existing students, the new Safe Passage route provides some added comfort.

"It should have been like this before. Because there are a lot of things going on that shouldn't be, that you see on TV. There should have been security guards on the corners," said Deon Cross, parent.

At a CPS interfaith breakfast in Archer Heights Tuesday morning, Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett assured parents everything is ready for the start of the school year.

"We've taken every precaution. We've wrapped our arms around our children. We want our families to know their children are the most important thing to me. We're going to make sure they not only get to school safely, but they have a quality education," said Byrd-Bennett.

For those folks who still have questions about Safe Passage, school specific guides will be sent to all families with children enrolling at welcoming schools before the first day of class on August 26.

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