CINCINNATI — Cincinnati Public Schools will shift to remote learning from Wednesday, Jan. 12 to Monday, Jan. 24 amid staffing challenges.
The Cincinnati Board of Education voted to move to remote learning after CPS continued to report a high percentage of school-based employee absences. In a presentation Monday, CPS said 786 school-based employees called in sick Thursday, Jan. 6. When schools went remote in November 2020, CPS reported 780 absences.
The district said central office staff has continued to help when possible because many subs are not willing to come into classrooms. However, administrators said that support is not sustainable. Eight schools had remote learning Monday, and CPS administrators said there would have been 16 schools in remote learning Friday if classes were not canceled due to weather.
The recommendation from @IamCPS administration is to do district-wide remote beginning Wednesday 1/12. They suggest returning to in-person instruction on Monday 1/24. Board will have public comment before making decision. @WCPO pic.twitter.com/VvVYWxfG40— Josh Bazan (@JoshBazan) January 11, 2022
CPS reported 68% of staff members who responded to its survey preferred a district-wide remote learning plan over specific schools going remote when needed. Around 55% of high school students who responded to the survey also preferred district-wide remote learning. Of the close to 10,000 parents who responded, 53% supported a district-wide plan.
While students will return to the classroom Jan. 24 under the current plan, board members acknowledged it is impossible to know if the district's staffing shortages will improve by that date.
The decision comes despite multiple doctors from Cincinnati Children's speaking about the importance of in-person learning. Dr. Patty Manning said a switch to remote learning will not necessarily slow the spread of COVID, but multiple teachers and parents said they are worried about the quality of education with so many teachers out and so few substitutes available.
"Whatever warm body we could throw in there is who covered my classes," Dater High School teacher Kim Toben said. "So my students, my juniors and seniors who need English to graduate, spent the first week of the quarter with no instruction."
Interim Superintendent Tianay Amat told the board the shift to remote learning will help by allowing teachers with mild symptoms or those in quarantine to continue teaching. She said it will also encourage more certified substitutes to cover classes as well as allowing time for community health data to improve.