September 11, 2012
To support Chicago parents and children, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) announced today that it will extend the hours of Children First school sites to be six full hours, starting on Thursday, should the CTU choose to continue to strike. Currently, the 147 Children First sites are open for half-days (8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.); as of Thursday, CPS will extend the hours to be open from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. to support Chicago parents and children.
On Monday, when the leadership of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) chose to strike, CPS opened 144 Children First school sites as a safety net for families who are not able to access alternatives for childcare. Today, CPS opened three additional Children First sites based on feedback it received from families and communities. CPS will continue to provide alternative options for students and parents in greatest need if the leadership of the CTU continues to choose to strike.
“Putting our students first is the No. 1 priority. Since the CTU chose to strike on Sunday, parents are seeking greater support, and we have responded by increasing hours to more closely mirror a traditional school day,” said CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard. “Should the CTU continue this action, 147 Children First sites will be open starting Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. to provide meals, keep children safe and engaged, and support Chicago’s parents by providing them reliable options during this strike.”
Children First sites have capacity for 150,000 students, or nearly 40 percent of the students impacted by the CTU’s choice to strike. While instruction cannot take place at Children First sites per the law, children are participating in multiple activities to keep them safe and engaged.
CPS will provide a broad spectrum of activities for elementary and junior high school children, including:
- Reading, drawing, recreation, journaling and online learning in computer facilities at schools, including three key online opportunities:
- Khan Academy: Khan Academy’s library of videos covers K-12 math, science, finance and history.
- Discovery Kids: Discovery Kids includes innovative games, activities, quizzes and articles.
- Sophia (with Capella University): Sophia is a free social education platform that provides more than 25,000 credible academic tutorials.
For high school students, CPS will provide opportunities to read, plan for career and college programs, and there is special online coursework available for seniors so they can keep up with learning and preparing for college and the future. Specific online coursework is available for CPS seniors, so that they do not fall off-track for college, in credit recovery, Advanced Placement (AP) or non-credit bearing General Elective classes. Seniors should register for online courses.
“This is not a substitute for classroom learning, but because teachers are not in the classroom, we will not turn our backs on our children, and are committed to providing them meals, engaging activities and a safe environment,” Brizard said. “We will continue to enhance opportunities for our children if needed as we move forward.”
CPS has also partnered with sister agencies and partner organizations, resulting in more than 200 additional locations as options for students. This includes 78 Chicago Public Libraries, 78 Chicago Park District sites, 59 locations through the Safe Haven program and programming offered by more than 100 non-profit organizations.
Chicago parents who are seeking full-day opportunities for their children can access them at:
- CPS Children First sites
- Chicago Park District camp programs
- Safe Haven sites
- Other non-profit partners.
Hundreds of programs and thousands of opportunities can be found at www.cps.edu/childrenfirst. CPS students are also being provided free rides by the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA).
“We again want to thank community members, faith leaders, parents, neighbors, the non-profit sector and City leaders who came together to support Chicago’s students to provide safe and engaging alternative options for those in need during the school day,” Brizard added.
Additionally, CPS has partnered with the non-profit organization Chicago Cares to coordinate volunteers to help provide support at parks and libraries to support any additional activity at those sites. And today, 100 City Year Corps Members on 13 teams will be redeployed from CPS sites where they are going to begin their year of service at 10 parks and three libraries to lend volunteer support for students.
People who are interested in volunteering at Children First sites can find more information and sign-up at www.chicagocares.org/studentsupport.
CPS will continue communicating with parents via email, letters, calls, text messages and other communication tools to ensure all stakeholders remain updated as negotiations continue. CPS also is encouraging parents to pay close attention to the news media for timely updates.
Chicago Public Schools serves 402,000 students in 675 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.