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Parents ponder childcare options after CPS announces blended back-to-school plan

Students would head back to class 2-3 days per week
Posted at 9:44 PM, Jun 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-01 07:01:12-04

CINCINNATI — Cincinnati Public Schools announced its plan to blend classes between in-person instruction and online learning on Monday, but some parents have concerns about getting childcare for students when they aren’t in class.

For Jessica Powell, who has three kids aged 4 to 6 attending Gamble Montessori, having class only two or three days a week creates a big problem. She says as much in-person school time as possible will be critical.

MORE: Cincinnati Public Schools approves blended back-to-school plan

“Online learning doesn’t work for most CPS families, including mine. And social interaction is critical,” Powell said.

Under the current blended learning plan, students will be in class two days one week, then three days the next. Students, placed in Group A or Group B, would follow an alternating schedule to limit contact.

Since that isn’t a consistent weekly schedule and requires kids to be at home a portion of the week, Powell said she would have to be home, too.

“Older kids, but also families without daycare choices, have options. I realize school isn’t a babysitter, but school is what helps many parents, including me, keep working,” she said.

At Monday’s Board of Education meeting, where members voted on the first of five proposed options, CPS teacher Deborah Holloway said she believes children need a more stable schedule in this uncertain time.

“I’d like to see something more stable,” she said Monday. “This on-again, off-again, face-to-face, and remote I think can be confusing to younger kids, and the parents. Especially if they’re trying to work, that inconsistency can make it more difficult.”

CPS Superintendent Laura Mitchell admits at this point there’s no set-in-stone option for daycare.

“Do we have a bank of organizations who are ready to fill that need? At this moment, I cannot tell you that we do,” Mitchell said at a press conference Monday. “But I think it’s important for parents to know that they should start thinking about what are childcare options for the upcoming school year.”

Board member Mike Moroski also said Tuesday that the district is beginning to look for partners to ease the daycare burden.

"By far the most frequent question is about child care," Moroski tweeted Tuesday. "Admittedly, there is no good answer. In fact, there were no good options. We are going to talk about what, if anything, we can do with partners to alleviate that strain."

CPS also has contingency plans to transition back to remote learning for one school, multiple schools or the entire district if a second COVID-19 spike should make that necessary, Mitchell said during Monday's press conference.

For those concerned about sending their child back to classrooms at all, CPS will also offer a full-time K-12 online option through Cincinnati Digital Academy.

Mitchell said CPS is working with Cincinnati Bell on a plan to bring internet to over 11,000 CPS families who don't have WiFi access. By Sept. 4, every student grades 2-12 will have access to a device.