14/08/2014 12:53 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

Police Guards Escort Kids To School Across Chicago Gang Boundaries

Police guards escort kids to school on gang boundary routes

Police in Chicago have been guarding thousands of children making their way to classes after the closure of 60 schools meant some kids were crossing 'gang boundaries'.

The BBC reports that as many as 12,000 students out of 400,000 in city-run schools had to negotiate a new route, with many parents, teachers and community activists fearing for their safety.

The police said there were no incidents reported on the first day back to school, but parents were still worried.

"I'm seeing small groups of kids being walked to school by their parents, or their older brothers or sisters," Police Superintendent Gary McCarthy said.

One concerned grandparent said she wondered just how long the authorities would be able to keep up their visible presence, and if the children would end up more vulnerable as the months went on.

"I think it's just show-and-tell right now," Annie Stovall told the Associated Press as she walked her nine-year-old grandaughter to school. "Five, six weeks down the road, let's see what's going to happen."

The city announced in March that school closures would save about $1bn (£640m) over 10 years. It has, however, had to hire 600 volunteers at $10 an hour to guard the 53 new Safe Passages routes to school, as well as spending money repairing street pavements, replacing street lights, painting over graffiti and boarding up about 300 vacant buildings.

The Chicago radio station WBEZ says there have been 133 shootings and 38 killings near the Safe Passage routes, while Chicago papers reported at least two fatal shootings on or near the routes on the weekend before schools reopened.