Parents are facing a major child care dilemma after Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker announced that all K-12 schools in the state will close from Tuesday, March 17, through March 30.
It's an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19 as the state's number of confirmed cases climbed to 93 Sunday.
Free and reduced-price lunches will still be available to qualifying students during CPS closures. Families can pick food up from their nearest CPS school starting Tuesday and on all weekdays throughout the closure between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m.
To help parents with childcare, the Chicago Park District will offer special programming at 18 parks across the city, starting Tuesday.
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Those sites, like Foscoe Park on the Near West Side, are getting a deep cleaning this weekend.
Alonzo Williams, the Park District's chief program officer, said they're cleaning walls and counter tops where the disease could potentially spread.
Williams said its activities for students will be altered to keep in line with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance for avoiding the spread of coronavirus.
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Activities will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, and they'll be capped at 250 people to limit the size of gatherings.
Each of these special programs is free, but families are asked to send their children with a bag lunch.
With so many more students about to be out of class, Mayor Lori Lightfoot is asking the business community for help.
"We need them to review their policies and be as accommodating as possible," Lightfoot said. "No parent should be forced to pick between staying home with a child or earning a paycheck."
For those at city parks, Williams said there will be space to isolate people if they become sick on-site.
"But as of right now, we're still working on trying to figure out from a health component how can we partner with someone else to provide a service that we don't have," Williams said.
A full list of parks open during this time can be found at www.chicagoparkdistrict.com.
The 18 parks offering enhanced programming:
-Eckhart, 1330 W. Chicago Avenue
-Columbus, 500 S. Central Avenue
-Fosco, 1312 S. Racine
-Piotrowski,4247 W. 31st Street
-McKinley, 2210 W. Pershing Road
-Kennicott, 4434 S. Lake Park Avenue
-Norwood, 5801 N. Natoma
-Kosciuszko Park, 2732 N. Avers
-Warren Park, 6601 N. Western Avenue
-Sauganash, 5861 N. Kostner Avenue
-Margate, 4921 N. Marine Drive
-Gill Park, 825 W. Sheridan Road
-West Lawn, 4233 W. 65th Street
-Gage Park, 2411 W. 55th Street
-Jackson Park, 6401 S. Stony Island
-Ridge Park, 9625 S. Longwood Drive
-West Pullman, 401 W. 123rd Street
-Avalon Park, 1215 E. 83rd Street