CINCINNATI — In a normal year, Marsha Thornton would take back-to-school photos before putting her two sons on their school buses and saying goodbye. But this year is not normal.
“This year we all woke up and we had breakfast and then they went to their rooms,” said Thornton, mother of two CPS students.
More than 30,000 Cincinnati Public School students made a virtual start to the new school year Monday. The district will stick to remote instruction for at least the first five weeks before reevaluating safety risks from the coronavirus pandemic.
“What I will say, it’s very different from last year,” said Thornton.
For her sons Jeremiah and Joshua, classes at Walnut Hills High School and Covedale Elementary are all online. Joshua, a sixth-grader, says that takes away some of the excitement.
“Usually when we’re going to school I’m a little bit more excited,” Joshua said.
Even though CPS students won’t be going to school in person, they will be required to log in to classes virtually every day.
“It’s an interesting time,” said Stacey Hill-Simmons, principal at Evanston Academy. “We had to pivot midstream to make this happen, but I think it went pretty well.”
At Evanston Academy, teachers were able to connect with most of their students Monday, but staff is tracking down some families now to make sure they pick up devices to participate in virtual learning.
“I do think the virtual learning this time will be better than it was when we didn’t have a plan,” Thornton said. “When we first started this, it was very reactionary.”
Thornton said she appreciates the clear and robust class schedules and that teachers are setting aside time for students to step away from the screen. But the entire family hopes they can safely get back to normal classes soon.
“We’re just adapting and being flexible and hoping that this coronavirus thing will end sooner than later,” Thornton said.