CPS would provide free child care during remote learning under proposal

District officials say they will prioritize children younger than 14, those living in under-resourced communities and families without a permanent home.

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Marcellus Reid, 6, a first grade student at Kozminski Community Academy on the South Side, wears an oversized face mask and listens as his mother, Alberta Reid, speaks during a press conference.

The city is looking to come up with a child care plan as Chicago Public Schools classes remain remote this fall.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times file photo

Chicago officials are working on a plan to provide free child care for at least the first quarter of the upcoming school year as a return to remote learning is again expected to strain working class families during the pandemic.

Chicago Public Schools officials are surveying families’ needs as they figure out the details of the plan, which they say will include sites across the city where parents can drop off their children to do their school work during the day. The priority deadline to respond to the survey is Sept. 1.

To start, CPS says it’ll prioritize children younger than 14, those living in under-resourced communities and families without a permanent home.

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Under the potential plan, students would be assigned to spaces with kids of the same age group and an adult who will supervise the children but won’t be an educator who could help with learning.

The number of people in each space would be limited, and children and staff would be required to wear masks, practice social distancing and complete a daily symptom screening. Families would follow a staggered schedule and be assigned a time to pick up and drop off their children.

Breakfast and lunch would be provided every day, as would high-speed internet. Computers won’t be distributed at the learning sites.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot and CPS CEO Janice Jackson have long said one of their biggest concerns with remote learning is that it leaves families with little options for child care. Many CPS parents continue to work in-person jobs to support their families and can’t afford to stay home with their children while they complete schoolwork.

As far back as mid-July, when the city announced its initial plans for most students to learn in school two days every week, Lightfoot said the city was looking into options for child care similar to a plan announced by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio that would provide free services for parents of 100,000 students in that city.

It’s unclear which adults would staff the learning sites in Chicago and if the locations would be at schools or Chicago Park District sites. A CPS spokeswoman didn’t immediately respond to questions.

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