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As a new strain of coronavirus (COVID-19) swept through the world in 2020, preparedness plans, masking policies and more public policy changed just as quickly. WVXU has covered the pandemic's impact on the Tri-State from the very beginning, when on March 3, 2020, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine barred spectators from attending the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus over concerns about the virus, even though Ohio had yet to confirm a single case of COVID-19.

CPS Board Delays Decision On Whether To Return To School

Ambriehl Crutchfield

The Cincinnati Public Schools Board of Education did not vote on a return to school plan Monday evening, despite a nearly four-and-a-half-hour-long meeting.

During that time, Superintendent Laura Mitchell gave a presentation that showed Hamilton County and Ohio meeting eight out of nine COVID data points previously established by the district for students to return to class. That data, however, did not include results from Labor Day weekend, which had some members worried about missing info on a potential spike in cases.

Board members are also concerned about how to move forward with the flu season approaching and children potentially getting sick. Carolyn Jones said families afraid of COVID-19 won't send their kids to school, which could affect enrollment.

"The reality of it is and I hate to say it, but I'm going to say it, we are going to lose kids," Jones said. "I don't want to, but we're going to lose some. We're going to have to pull some rabbits out of a hat or something."

Board members also raised concerns about certain groups of students not doing well with distanced learning, including special needs kids and lower income students.

While discussing return plans, Mike Moroski was the only board member who said he's not comfortable with sending kids back.

"I obviously will support the will of the board as I have in the past, but I don't think that this is safe," Moroski said.

Concerns with children contracting COVID-19 remains high on the board's priority list. During the next meeting, the board will look at data from the Labor Day weekend to see if cases are rising exponentially. That meeting will take place next Monday, Sept. 21 at 5 p.m.

Sports Returning

Despite not deciding on a return plan, sports in the school district will return to competition this week.

Non-contact sports will return to full competition, while next week, contact sports will be played only within the CPS district.

While sports are returning, fans might not be. Melanie Bates said she would prefer the games to not include spectators.

"I'm not sure why we would allow spectators," Bates said. "In different times, that would be great."

The board will decide on allowing spectators in a future hearing.

Cory Sharber attended Murray State University majoring in journalism and political science and comes to Cincinnati Public Radio from NPR Member station WKMS.