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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 To Return To Remote Learning Nov. 23 Due To Lack Of Staff

Cincinnati Public Schools (screenshot from Nov. 11, 2020 meeting)
CPS has said how fighting the virus is like layering pieces of Swiss cheese - every precaution has a hole that needs to be covered.

Cincinnati Public Schools will return to remote learning Nov. 23 due to a lack of staff because of COVID-19.

During a special public meeting that lasted over three hours, it was decided that distance learning would be the best option due to increased teacher absences. Students will remain in distance learning until winter break, and then will return to a blended learning model Jan. 4, pending the number of local cases.

Superintendent Laura Mitchell said each school has a staff back-up plan. However, schools are running out of staff to support the back-up plan.

"One week, you may have two teachers out and - it's a popcorn effect, within a week and from week to week," Mitchell said. "So you'll get those two back and then the next week, three more are out; different grade level, different content area, and so you see this popcorn effect all over the place."

Credit Cincinnati Public Schools (screenshot from Nov. 11, 2020 meeting)
Cincinnati Public Schools (screenshot from Nov. 11, 2020 meeting)

Human Resources Director Paul McDole said they're seeing challenges for staffing, despite having a back-up plan.

"Just as I was walking into the board meeting, I got a text message that we have three staff members that are being sent home from a school, which basically means now that we have to quickly adapt for Thursday to provide coverage for our students," McDole said.

Credit Cincinnati Public Schools (screenshot from Nov. 11, 2020 meeting)
Cincinnati Public Schools (screenshot from Nov. 11, 2020 meeting)

COVID-19 cases continue to rise throughout Cincinnati Public Schools. Since returning to blended learning last month, 70 students have tested positive for the virus while 89 staff members have tested positive. Here is the most recent data since CPS began tracking cases in May.

Cincinnati Federation of Teachers president Julie Sellers said 40 teachers have gotten sick in the last three days and says CPS is contributing to the community spread.

"CPS staff and students are not isolated from the bubble of the community," Sellers said. "When they say, 'We're not going to eat together for Thanksgiving,' well, come and eat in a classroom with students that don't have a mask on."

The city of Cincinnati is averaging 96 new cases per day. Over 8,000 cases have been identified since the beginning of the pandemic.

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