Here are some frequently asked questions about the CPS contingency plan. The answers were compiled from CPS and chief Jean-Claude Brizard's comments during a teleconference with parents last week.
Q: How will the CPS sites in the district's Children First plan be staffed?
A: The 144 schools will be staffed with nonunion employees, including principals, assistant principals and central office employees, many of whom are former teachers. Staff also will include parent volunteers and representatives from community-based organizations. "All have gone through background investigations and vetting to make sure they are qualified," Brizard said.
Q: How can CPS ensure children's safety?
A: About 1,000 security officers will be stationed across the sites. Each site has a safety plan that addresses arrival and dismissal, placement of security officers and emergency management. Registration will help CPS better meet staffing needs at each site. While parents are encouraged to use CPS sites only as a last resort, no child will be turned away. The plan is to have a 25-1 student-to-staff ratio at each site. "We know we cannot accommodate 400,000-plus kids; that is why we're trying to encourage those of greatest need to come," Brizard said. "We expect 150,000 will show up at the sites. Our backup plan is to have adults bused into the sites if necessary."
Q: What provisions are in place for special-needs students?
A: Each site will provide support for students with disabilities, as well as nursing staff to deal with health and medical needs. Those with mobility issues should go to designated sites that meet Americans with Disabilities Act requirements. "If children need medication at school, they should preregister to make sure schools are aware of what is going on," Brizard said. "We want to make sure there is at least one nurse at every site."
Q: Will transportation be provided for eligible students?
A: The district will not provide transportation. However, parents of homeless students and special-needs students who qualify for transportation will be reimbursed for transportation costs. In most cases, students who preregister will be assigned to sites closest to their homes.
Q: Should there be concerns about crossing picket lines?
A: It is unlikely that the teachers union would prevent a child from coming to school to get special services and meals.
Q: Will students have to make up the days if they are kept at home?
A: Whether children go to a Children First site or stay home, the days missed during the strike will have to be made up, either by shortening breaks or extending the school year.
Q: What are the rules regarding uniforms and after-school activities?
A: Because school will not be in session, students will not be required to wear uniforms. All after-school programs will be canceled, as well as sports practices. Though there will be no classroom instruction, the sites will offer age-appropriate activities. Supplies will be provided.
Q: Are there options other than sending children to school sites?
A: CPS has contracted with 60 churches and faith-based centers; to extend their "safe haven" programs during the strike. Several neighborhood organizations and community-based after-school programs also are extending their hours.
Details were released about other programs that will be available:
•The Chicago Park District, a partner in the CPS plan, will offer camp-style activities for children from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Though space is limited, parents may register their children at the park sites for full- or half-day programs. Students will participate in camp-type activities such as sports, arts and nature activities. No meals will be provided, so children will need to bring their own food. Additional information can be found at chicagoparkdistrict.com.
•The YMCA of Metro Chicago will provide extended camp activities, including structured play, sports and crafts, at its nine urban centers. The programs will run from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the following YMCAs: South Side, Rauner, McCormick Tribune, Kelly Hall, West Communities, Lake View, Leaning Tower, Irving Park, High Ridge and North Lawndale. All participants must register on-site; registration began Friday. Children also may register as early as 6 a.m. Monday on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information, visit ymcachicago.org.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun