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Where parents can take children during strike

William H. Ray Principal Dr. TatiBeckwith prepares case there is teachers strike. 5631 S Kimbark. Sunday September 9 2012 |

William H. Ray Principal Dr. Tatia Beckwith prepares, in case there is a teachers strike. 5631 S Kimbark. Sunday, September 9, 2012 | Brian Jackson~Sun-Times

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Updated: September 9, 2012 11:46PM



At Hyde Park’s William H. Ray Elementary School, Principal Tatia Beckwith was getting ready for Monday’s arrival of schoolchildren.

Beckwith’s school, at 5631 S. Kimbark, will accommodate kids with no place to go. It is one of 144 CPS schools designated as a Children First contingency sites, where parents can bring their children for part of the day if they haven’t been able to make other alternative arrangements, Beckwith said Sunday after finishing up preparations.

Parents were encouraged to sign up at the Children First website, or by calling 311 to find out which site is their child’s designated contingency location. No child will be turned away at the sites.

For a map showing the contingency schools as well as scores of churches that will be open to CPS schoolchildren, check the Sun-Times map.

Several Chicago Park District parks are offering camp from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. to accommodate strike-stranded children. For a list, go to the park district website.

A number of private groups also have extended their daycare or camp options for parents who need to place their children. One blog, ChicagoKids.com, lists more than a dozen specialty camps.

At the Ray and the other contingency sites, “we’ll have games, puzzles, art activities, videos,” Beckwith said of what parents and students can expect during the 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. time period the sites will be open to students weekdays. “Computer labs will be available for the bigger kids. It’s not school. There won’t be any instruction. It’s just positive activities in a safe place.”

Students also will be able to get free breakfast and lunch, she said, noting that CPS Chief Executive Officer Jean-Claude Brizard informed principals as contingency plans were being put in place that 85 percent of CPS children ordinarily have breakfast and lunch at school that is supplied by the district. The goal is to make sure kids will continue to get the nutrition they need in a safe place during the strike, Beckwith said as she walked the halls of her school Sunday morning.

Ray elementary is the designated site for its own students as well as for students who live in the attendance areas of Murray Language Academy, Bret Harte Elementary and Kozminski Elementary schools.

Ray elementary, where 680 children are enrolled, will be able to accommodate up to 1,000 children.

Roughly 40 staff, including Beckwith, the assistant principals, teacher aides, security guards, teacher assistants, bus aides and kitchen staff will be on hand to care for the students.

Asked how the children have been reacting to the possibility of a strike, she said, they’ve been curious.

“They had a lot of questions,” she said. “The sixth-graders on Friday were having a discussion about what it means to strike. I have had a few kids say I hope we’re in school. They love school and they don’t want a strike to happen. But they’re really curious. They love their teachers and so they’re concerned about their teachers. They want to understand a little better what it means and what the issues are. They really were asking some good questions.”



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