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CPS board members discuss vaccine requirement for volunteers

Ambriehl Crutchfield / WVXU

The Cincinnati Public Schools district is working to find substitute teachers and improve COVID-19 safeguards in buildings as in-person learning resumes.

Board members discussed a proposed vaccine requirement for volunteers within the district. Concerns requiring volunteers to get vaccinated include facing possible legal ramifications and not thoroughly vetting a proposal before being put up for a vote. The proposal failed with only two members voting for it. Board Member Eve Bolton voted against the proposal.

"I just think we better not rush, even though time is of the essence, to now put an additional responsibility, an additional stipulation on our parents and our volunteers," Bolton said.

The matter could come up again in future Policy and Equity Committee meetings.

In September 2021, CPS became the first district in Ohio to require COVID-19 vaccines for employees.

The district has received 94 applications for substitute teacher positions. Attendance rates for teachers are up on the first day back at 91%. Prior to shifting to remote learning, absentee rates for staff members were as high as 19%. January's fill rate for substitute teachers was 46%. Pre-COVID, the rate was up to 80%.

COVID-19 safeguards

Cleaning procedures are currently in place for facilities within the district. Any space with a positive COVID-19 case will be disinfected. Daily cleaning logs are being maintained for each occupied space.

HVAC system filters will be replaced throughout the day as COVID-positive cases arise. Air purifiers are being installed in preschool and some specialized classrooms. N-95 masks will be provided to preschool teachers and teachers in autism and multiple disability classrooms. Preschool students will continue to receive NIOSH/FDA approved disposable masks.

On Jan. 10, CPS board members voted to shift the district to remote learning due to staffing shortages caused by COVID-19.

Nearly 5,000 COVID-19 cases have been reported among students and staff this school year. Of those cases, 3,725 have been students and 1,219 have been staff. Cincinnati's positivity rate is at 34.1%. The city is averaging 655 cases per day.

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