CHICAGO (WLS) -- As Chicago Public Schools students returned to class on Tuesday, two new Safe Passage routes were debuted to ensure students' safety while walking to and from school.
The routes aim to keep children safe as at least 27 children under age 13 have been shot in Chicago so far this year.
On Tuesday, students at Al Raby High School and Dyett School for the Arts were welcomed by new Safe Passage workers personally making sure they got to school safely.
At Al Raby High School, the students can thank their principal, in part, for making that happen.
"It's actually been my dream for the last few years to have a Safe Passage route," said Femi Skanes, principal at Al Raby High School. "So, for the most part, the Safe Passage route stopped right about Madison Avenue, so we have been having a lot of conversation, you know, that our students, once they hit Lake Street, there was no Safe Passage presence, so for me this is like a dream come true."
As parents dropped off their kids, they too, noticed the change and are pleased CPS is taking steps to make sure students have a safe environment.
"It's what they need, to correct the city," said parent Lindsey Brown.
"I know my kid, he's good, everywhere he walks, he's covered," said parent Ericka Smith.
The total number of CPS Safe Passage schools is now 142.
The new routes provide assurance to students and parents that they can travel to and from school safely, mainly in neighborhoods deemed "hot spots" for potential crime.
CPS says the program works, and some students agree.
"It's always better to have better security, better everything," said student D'Angelo Grant. "It's good with me."
CPS said 1,300 Safe Passage personnel are helping students every day throughout the school year to get to school and back home safely.
HOT TEMPS WELCOME CPS STUDENTS
Students returned to school after a beautiful Labor Day weekend on a day that saw extremely muggy conditions, with temperatures close to 90 degrees and a heat index around 100.
Just a few weeks ago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel promised to finish installing air conditioning units in the 61 remaining CPSschools by the end of year -- one year ahead of schedule.
On Tuesday, school officials at the schools with no air conditioning worked to ensure that everyone stayed safe.
"Extra fans, bottled water on tap. All the things students will need to be comfortable. Teachers are going to be on higher alert, making sure students are doing well," said Janice Jackson, CPS chief education officer.
In a statement on Tuesday, the district said: "Chicago Public Schools want to make sure all our students are in classrooms, comfortable, safe and modern ... which is why we have accelerated our investment to insure every CPS student will attend class in an air conditioned classroom before spring 2017. That's one year ahead of schedule."