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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.

Cincinnati Offering Option For Families Who Don't Want To Send Kids Back To Class

Cory Sharber
Cincinnati Health Commissioner Melba Moore, Mayor John Cranley, Recreation Commission Director Daniel Betts and Pat O'Callaghan address the media in front of Price Hill Recreation Center on Oct. 6, 2020.

Despite rising COVID-19 numbers, public schools in Cincinnati are set to reopen in-person next week. For parents who want a remote option for their kids, a program is already in place.

The School Day Enrichment Program provides kids remote learning opportunities at all 23 rec centers throughout Cincinnati.

No more than 15 kids are in a room at a time. Masks and social distancing are enforced.

Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley said the city’s recreation commission has been working tirelessly to provide remote learning to students during the pandemic.

The mayor spoke at the Price Hill Recreation Center on Tuesday. He said the loss of in-person education could set children back and that this program allows for kids to have internet access and supervision.

"These are extraordinary times and require extraordinary measures," Cranley said.

The Cincinnati Recreation Commission worked with Cincinnati Bell to upgrade internet services at the rec centers. Originally, the rec centers were using Verizon hot spot solutions for internet access, but they would not allow for multiple users to connect at the same time. The upgrades should be complete by Oct. 26.

Mayor John Cranley said the program costs on average $150 a week, but if families cannot afford this, they will not be turned away.

"The bottom line is families are in crisis and they need options," Cranley said. "Every family needs to make a decision for themselves."

The program works in conjunction with Cincinnati Public Schools plans. The rec centers can hold a maximum of 549 kids in the program. Just over 250 kids are currently enrolled.

COVID-19 And School Return Plans

Credit Cory Sharber / WVXU
Cincinnati Health Commissioner Melba Moore addressing the media at Price Hill Recreation Center on Oct. 6, 2020.

Cincinnati Health Commissioner Melba Moore said she feels comfortable sending children back to schools, despite Hamilton County showing increased COVID-19 numbers. She said she supports the steps Cincinnati Public Schools are taking at this point.

"We've looked at their plans, we've worked with them, we've had our inspectors go in and talking about this and what they should be doing," Moore said. "Should there be a continuation of increased cases, we're all monitoring it and appropriate action will be taken."

The county is currently at Level 3 on the Ohio Public Health Advisory System. According to Moore, at least 5,927 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Cincinnati since the pandemic began, which has resulted in 106 deaths.

Cincinnati has been averaging 26 new cases per day over the past 14 days and zero deaths per 14 days.

CPS will begin transitioning to in-person learning starting Oct. 12.

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