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‘Many more’ CPS child care sites to come after the first 6 open this week

So far there are 111 students registered for the program, with children who are 14 or younger, homeless or facing other economic hardship receiving first priority, officials said.

A reminder to maintain social distance is posted at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior Academy of Social Justice library in Englewood on the first day back to school Tuesday morning, Sept. 8, 2020.
A reminder to maintain social distance is posted at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior Academy of Social Justice library in Englewood on the first day back to school Tuesday morning, Sept. 8, 2020.
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Chicago Public Schools officials are operating child care services at six schools across the city for families who are strained by the return to remote learning this fall.

So far there are 111 students registered for the program, with children who are 14 or younger, homeless or facing other economic hardship receiving first priority, officials said. “Many more sites” are set to open Sept. 21, schools chief Janice Jackson said this week.

“We’re going to serve thousands of families, I think that’s important,” Jackson said. “But Mayor [Lori] Lightfoot wanted to make sure we had something ready on day one.”

The district surveyed families’ needs in the weeks leading up to the school year as the details of the plan continue to be worked out on the fly. The priority deadline was Sept. 1 for the survey through which families could indicate interest in the service, but it’ll remain open for additional sign-ups — though space could run out.

The initial six sites, spanning all sides of the city, are at the following elementary schools: Schubert, Nightingale, Lavizzo, Wadsworth, Depriest and Madero.

Capacity at each of the six locations is 40 students, totaling 240 citywide. For the remaining seats, CPS is reaching out in order of submission to the families who indicated on the survey that they would be interested in using the services.

Once parents apply and are approved, they can drop off their kids at their designated site from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every weekday. Kids are split into groups of no larger than 15 with children of the same age group.

Adult supervisors aren’t educators but are from community organizations, city agencies and non-teaching CPS staff, and all have worked with CPS before and have passed background checks. No educational support will be provided — only supervision.

Masks, social distancing and symptom screenings are required, and sick students won’t be allowed to go. If a child arrives at a site with symptoms or develops symptoms during the day, they’ll be sent to a designated care room and a parent will be asked to pick them up as soon as possible.

Breakfast and lunch are provided every day, as is high-speed internet. Computers aren’t distributed at the learning sites.