CHICAGO — Hundreds of Chicago Public Schools school crossing guards braved the elements Wednesday morning even though school was cancelled and there were no kids to cross. At the end of their shift, the guards were told to come back in the afternoon, but the union representing them said it intervened.
Chicago Office of Emergency Management Executive Director Rich Guidice said the crossing guards were on duty in the event some kids showed up for school. Once officials saw children were not coming to school, they decided the guards were not needed in the afternoon.
“We wanted to feel comfortable that the message was out and being that we didn’t see the type of volume of pedestrians moving back and forth...it means that people did listen to the message and we were satisfied that the message was received," he said.
The Chicago Teachers Union used the issue of the cold to highlight what it sees as a lack of investment in school buildings.
The union surveyed members who said that during the recent cold and snow, there were unplowed buildings, icy parking lots, inconsistent heat and insufficient janitorial personnel.
“We’re here at Lakeview High School and haven’t heard from the school this year that I’ve seen,” CTU President Jesse Sharkey said. “But last year they came back from a long break and had 30 degree classrooms here. And it was made worse by the fact the engineers of the school have been outsourced, privatized. That’s a fairly typical concern that we’ve seen a lot. “
Chicago’s Emergency Operations Center is currently staffed around the clock. People in need are also asked to call 311.
Knowing relief won’t come until this weekend, officials said they will remain in emergency mode.
“We have a full compliment upstairs and our emergency operations is activated,” Guidice said. “The most important thing from our perspective is communication and we’re getting all the information we need. We have ComEd upstairs with us as well as People’s Gas and all our city agencies.”