About 25,000 educators are on strike in Chicago, forcing the country’s third biggest school district to cancel classes and leaving about 300,000 students and their families to figure out where they will go. Many Chicago children depend on the breakfast and lunch provided at school as two of their daily meals.
School buildings will remain open to provide students with a place to go and meals to eat, but organizations and locations all over the city also have flung open their doors with programs to keep the kids of Chicago occupied.
To get the kids through the city, the Chicago Transit Authority will provide free rides to students between 5:30 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. on weekdays.
Here are many of the places that children can go while the strike continues.
School buildings, parks, and libraries will remain open
Though the teachers are picketing, Chicago Public Schools buildings will remain open and will be staffed by principals and non-unionized support staff.
According to Chicago Public Schools, students will be welcome at any school that is appropriate for their age. They will be provided breakfast and lunch, as well as a meal to take home. CPS is asking that children be registered with them if they plan to go to a school building.
Chicago Public Schools has also provided a Contingency Site Locator on its website where people can find nearby schools, parks, or other locations that are offering a place for kids to stay during school hours for the duration of the strike.
The city’s parks also will be open during regular hours. Some school parks will be closed due to the strike, though.
Chicago Public Libraries will be open for their regular operating hours, as well, and are prepared with their regular kids’ activities and book events. YOUmedia, the library system’s 19 digital learning spaces, will also be available and ready for students.
Community centers are offering programs
The city’s 11 YMCA locations will be holding a Schools Day Out program for anybody affected by the strike. Depending on the location, these programs may include classes, swimming, math lessons, arts and crafts, and sports.
Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago members are also in luck. The clubs are prepared to provide extended hours of operation for their youth members. They have not yet announced the extended schedule.
Not to be confused with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago, the Neighborhood Boys & Girls Club will be open for children and teenagers on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. for as long as the strike lasts.
Arts and theater groups will entertain
Beverly Arts Center is offering a “We have your BACk” Strike Camp. Chicago Children’s Theatre is also ready with Drama Day Camp for kindergarteners through fifth graders. Lillstreet Art Center will guide children in sculpting, drawing, printing, painting, and more. Dream Big Performing Arts is providing a Broadway Bound camp where campers will rock out to show tunes, sing, and dance. Throughout the city, other groups are hosting programs as well.
Aquariums and science camps are options too
Through the Shedd Aquarium’s Camp Shedd, parents and guardians may register children enrolled in kindergarten through fifth grade in Chicago Public Schools. From 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. campers will get hands-on exploration of the aquarium. Aftercare until 5 p.m. is included in the $100 fee.
Kids Science Labs is offering an innovation strike camp at its Lincoln Park and Roscoe Village locations for the duration of the strike.
Power Up Tech Academy has created 4-hour camps for $59 per day. Kids can engage in activities such as coding, building Minecraft worlds, or creating digital art.
Kids can get moving with sports camps
Even the Chicago Fire Department is showing up for the city’s kids with its soccer training day camps. Ages 6 to 14 of all abilities are welcome for $75 per day. Half-day prices are also available.
CircEsteem is pulling out the flips and tricks for Chicago kids with their Safe Space Circus Camps. For $66 per day, kids from kindergarten through 12th grade can work on their circus skills like trapeze, juggling, and stilt walking.
Windy City Sports Academy is holding a supervised open gym with coaches present. A full day costs $50 per child.
Religious and cultural centers are opening their doors
The Jewish Council for Youth Services has kids covered with their School’s Out Camp for children in kindergarten through fifth grade. The cost is $90 per day and pre-registration is required.
Jewish Community Center’s School’s Out program offers full-day childcare during the strike for $80 per day. Children will participate in themed days such as International Celebration and Star Wars Day.
Students may take a tiny trip to Sweden at the Swedish American Museum’s Adventures in Sweden Camp on October 21. Campers can learn about famous Swedish figures such as Greta Thunberg and Buzz Aldrin and steep themselves in Swedish traditions.
The Salvation Army has announced it will also provide free programming for up to 50 children including homework time, sports, arts and crafts, and Bible studies. Lunch will be provided.
Up to 20 children can be accommodated at each of the El Valor Children and Family Centers, according to a Facebook post. Students can participate in STEM-based activities and will be provided with breakfast, lunch, and a snack. $15 will be collected at the door.