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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 Commits To In-Person Classes Five Days A Week Next School Year

Ambriehl Crutchfield

Cincinnati Public Schools will have classes in-person five days a week next year and will include options for remote learning. CPS' Board of Education unanimously approved a resolution Monday that offers choices between five days of in-person and remote instruction, and includes the possibility of blended learning.

According to survey results reported last month, roughly 58% of parents districtwide — excluding Walnut Hills — prefer four or five days of in-person instruction. In the fall, 67% of those parents are comfortable with sending children to school five days a week in-person. Only 20% preferred blended learning. 

Credit Cincinnati Public Schools (screenshot from Apr. 5, 2021 meeting)
Cincinnati Public Schools (screenshot from Apr. 5, 2021 meeting)
In-person attendance for students was as low as 66% last Wednesday.

Since returning to classrooms on Mar. 31, in-person attendance peaked at just 70% last Thursday. Distance learning attendance is still being calculated. Walnut Hills saw more than 1,000 students transition back to the classroom last week, with at least another 1,000 expected to return this week.

On the flip side, staff attendance was higher than 88% during the same time frame.


Credit Cincinnati Public Schools (screenshot from Apr. 5, 2021 meeting)
Cincinnati Public Schools (screenshot from Apr. 5, 2021 meeting)
In-person transmissions of COVID-19 among students have increased since Mar. 12.



The number of in-person transmissions is also rising within the school district. At least 29 reported transmissions have occurred as of April 1 while only eight were reported as of March 12.

Since May 2020, more than 600 students have tested positive with COVID-19. That's in addition to more than 580 positive results amongst staff members.

Plans to begin vaccinating students are moving forward. Assistant Superintendent Susan Bunte says surveys are being sent out to families to gauge interest for students age 16 and up.

"Unlike vaccinations for adults, we only can use the Pfizer vaccine for our students," Bunte said. "It's the only one that's been approved."

At least 69% of CPS staff members have received a COVID-19 vaccine.

Last month, the board voted 4-3 to return all schools to five days of in-person learning for the remainder of the school year. Families can choose between in-person or distance learning through the online platform Schoology.

By next spring, concurrent learning options will be available for all students. However, these improvements could cost between $23 million and $53 million.

Nearly 5,000 students withdrew from the district during the 2020-21 school year, resulting in a 3.9% drop in enrollment since Oct. 2019.

In February, board members raised concerns about enrollment affecting the budget for the next school year. If projections of lower enrollment are factored into the budgeting process, it could mean significant layoffs within the school district. In July 2020, 179 positions were reduced due to budget constraints caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

You can read the full resolution below:

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