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Cincinnati Public Schools can't be pushed to reopen faster for five-day learning

Cincinnati Public Schools
Posted at 5:57 PM, Mar 08, 2021

Leslie Mooney moved her son out of Cincinnati Public Schools to get him back in a physical classroom after virtual learning took an alarming toll on his mental health, she said Monday.

"Over the course of the fall semester, our typically engaged, straight-A student had failing grades in nearly every class and was clearly exhibiting signs of depression and anxiety,” she said. “It is not hyperbole to say that the option to send him five days per week to school was life saving."

She and some other parents want the city of Cincinnati to push the district harder toward resuming five-day-a-week in-person learning at all schools — but CPS doesn’t answer to City Council, assistant city manager John Juech explained. City Hall can’t compel the CPS Board of Education to do anything.

The board has decided most schools will stay in a hybrid model for now, with Walnut Hills High School fully remote due to distancing concerns, so that’s what’s happening.

“The city continues to want to assist with the effort” to return to in-person learning, Juech said, but CPS has rebuffed many of its efforts to reach out.

Councilmember David Mann said he understands the jurisdictional boundaries in place and doesn’t want to overstep them by attempting to pressure the board of education in its decision-making process.

"We would be very resentful if the school board got involved in some fundamental policy decisions that are clearly within our exclusive jurisdiction,” he said. It’s the same in reverse.

For now, according to the district, the board of education continues to work on a plan for full reopening and plans to release the result of a parent survey at its Wednesday meeting.

Jullan Whitaker, a CPS parent, said she trusts the board and resents attempts to force a five-day schedule faster. She believes acting too fast could be far more damaging than waiting.

"We're so close to where things will be safe again,” she said. “We’re so close, but I feel like if we open back up five days, we're going to regret it."