Thousands of Chicago Public Schools students return to the classroom Tuesday as the first day of school kicks off in the city, but for many, the big day carries with it a cloud of questions.
Roughly 380,000 kids will be saying goodbye to summer and hello to the new school year, but concerns surrounding the "Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals" protections linger heavily for several students.
President Donald Trump is expected to roll back those protections for hundreds of thousands of people this week, though Chicago officials say DACA students are welcome at Chicago's public schools.
CPS said at least 46 percent of its student body was Hispanic last year, and there is a possibility Trump's decision could impact numerous students.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel, CPS CEO Forrest Claypool and City Colleges Chancellor Juan Salgado are expected to send a letter home to all parents and students to reinforce their statement that all students are welcome. It also reminds families that ICE agents are not allowed onto school property without a warrant.
"While still we do not have all the answers about what President Trump’s threats against DACA will mean for our nation, we know one thing for certain: everyone is welcome here in our city," the letter reads in part. "In this moment of uncertainty for so many in our nation, we want to reassure you that all students will be able to attend our preschools, our elementary schools, our high schools and our community colleges without fear or intimidation in the city they call home."
Increased safety precautions will also be in place as students return to school, with two more safe passage routes added to this year's list. At least 142 schools are covered by the routes.
And as students hit the books once again, CPS announced graduation rates improved last year, jumping up to 77 percent, an increase of 4 percentage points from the year before.
The Chicago Transit Authority will also help out Tuesday with free fares for students and parents.
The “First Day, Free Rides” program has been a fixture in the city for the last seven school years, and the city hopes that the incentive of free train and bus rides will be enough to boost attendance on the first day of classes.
“Convenient and reliable transportation is an important factor in a student’s success in the classroom,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement. “Thousands of CPS students rely on public transportation to travel to and from their classes, and by providing free rides on the first day, we can get them started on the right note.”
According to the CTA, 75-cent fares for elementary and high school students will go into effect beginning on Wednesday, and will be good from 5:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Friday during the school year.