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Education

Could CPS go remote again? With COVID cases on the rise, new board to discuss next week

 young girl looks at computer screen
Giovanni Gagliard
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Unsplash

The Cincinnati Public Schools Board of Education will discuss the possibility of the district going remote due to COVID-19 next week.

Over the weekend, the district received more than 300 alerts to its COVID hotline. On Monday, student attendance was at 77% and the rate for substitute teachers was at 37%.

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Cincinnati Public Schools (screenshot from Jan. 3, 2022 organizational meeting)
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During Monday's organizational meeting, Interim Superintendent Tianay Amat revealed 11 schools, including Dater and Walnut high schools, would've closed Monday due to staffing shortages. The district sent over 60 staff members from the central office to ensure the schools didn't, in fact, close.

The district's administration recommended going fully remote from Jan. 6-18 due to rising COVID-19 cases within the district. During Monday's meeting, board members debated the idea, even proposing moving to closures on a school-by-school basis instead. Board Member Eve Bolton says moving the entire district to remote learning would be unacceptable.

"I don't understand why urban children and urban families have to be shut down when the suburban people are going to school and the parochial people are going to school," Bolton said.

Board Member Mike Moroski preferred to move the district remote, rather than the school-by-school closure method.

"We talk about not wanting to inconvenience families," Moroski said. "What is more inconvenient than closing school by school?"

Newly elected Board President Ben Lindy says further discussions will be held during next Monday's board meeting.

"It can be really disruptive to parents to find out on a moment's notice that your kids aren't going to be able to go to school," Lindy said. "The counter is it's also super disruptive to find out that they're not going to be able to go in-person to school for two weeks. The issue as I understand it is which would parents prefer?"

The Cincinnati Federation of Teachers says more than 300 employees were out sick with COVID-19 on the district's first day back from winter break. President Julie Sellers said just 37% of the empty classrooms were filled Monday. She said the district was short on substitutes and central office staff members were called in to cover some classes.

According to the CPS Illness Tracker, 4,464 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in the district since May 2020. Of those cases, 1,213 are staff and 3,251 are students. In November 2020, CPS moved to remote learning due to a lack of staff because of COVID-19.

Hamilton County currently has a positivity rate of 19.09%. The county is averaging 721 cases per 100,000 people. In the past seven days, the virus has led to 34 deaths and 230 hospitalizations within the county. Cincinnati reported 797 new cases on Monday.

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Cory Sharber
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WVXU
Ben Lindy is sworn in as the new President of the Cincinnati Public Schools Board of Education during Monday's meeting.

Lindy elected president, three new members sworn in

At Monday's meeting, it was announced Board Member Ben Lindy will serve as president, while outgoing President Carolyn Jones will serve as vice president. Lindy graduated from Cincinnati Public Schools and previously served as the founding executive director of Teach For America (TFA) in Southwest Ohio.

Jones has served on the board since 2015, including stints as president in 2018, 2020 and 2021.

Mary Wineberg, Kareem Moffett and Brandon Craig were elected to their positions in November. They replace Melanie Bates and Ryan Messer, who decided not to run for re-election. Former board member Pamela Bowers ran for re-election but finished fifth in the polls.

The Cincinnati Public Schools Board of Education now consists of:

  • Eve Bolton
  • Brandon Craig
  • Carolyn Jones (vice president)
  • Ben Lindy (president)
  • Mike Moroski
  • Kareem Moffett
  • Mary Wineberg

The committee structures will consist of the following:

  • Finance - Bolton, Craig, Moroski
  • Policy - Bolton, Moffett, Moroski
  • Student Achievement - Craig, Jones, Wineberg
  • Health and Safety - Jones, Moffett, Wineberg

The board's next regular business meeting will be held Monday, Jan. 10.