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CPS parents protest district's current learning plan

Posted at 5:52 PM, Sep 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-30 23:56:07-04

CINCINNATI — Parents gathered outside Cincinnati Public School's Education Center on Wednesday to protest the district's remote learning option. The parents there said they don't believe the CPS Digital Academy is an equitable or fair option for their children, and they don't want their children to return to in-person classes yet.

CPS is planning to move to a blended learning model starting the week of Oct. 5, with students split into groups and taking classes both in person and at home, depending on the day of the week. Walnut Hills High School will continue with five days of distance learning due to safety considerations regarding the school’s high enrollment and small classroom sizes, the board decided Wednesday.

Parents uncomfortable with sending their children to school can opt to enroll them in the Cincinnati Digital Academy, and CPS is also considering an option that would allow for distance learning from a student’s current school. More information on that plan is forthcoming, according to a CPS statement.

"It's not a good fit for everyone," said Jenny Spring, who has two children attending CPS schools. "Especially right now during the pandemic. Our kids need to be connected to their teachers, their friends, their school community."

A petition signed by parents in the district has gained more than 1,500 signatures and calls for the district to offer remote learning options at each individual school, instead of the separate Digital Academy.

"My kids go to three different schools already and to take them out of that for Digital Academy for possibly a short period of time and have them go back, that's just not the stability they need," said Levon Siler, who has three children in the district.

Casey Witherow said if his son attends the Digital Academy, he would lose his spot at his current school after fighting hard just to get him in.

“We camped out for 16 days so we could have the opportunities to have such great teachers. We want him to retain that, and to do it in a safe manner,” Witherow said.

With the exception of preschool and Walnut Hills, most students will be divided into A and B groups to attend school in-person two days a week. Group A reports to school on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and Group B reports on Thursdays and Fridays. All students will learn at home on Mondays and remaining days. Preschoolers and specialized classrooms will return to school four days a week.

At Wednesday's meeting, CPS Superintendent Laura Mitchell said the administration will look at enrollment for students who report to schools during the week of Oct. 5-12 and "reallocate staff to serve as distance learning teachers."

“Our goal has always been to safely return to in-person learning, and we are excited to welcome students back to our buildings beginning next week,” said Superintendent Laura Mitchell in a statement. “As a district of 36,000 students and buildings of various sizes and capacities, there is no one-size fits-all approach. We continue to provide our families with choice, and depending on interest, staffing, and infrastructure considerations, we may be able to offer a distance learning option that would allow students to remain in their home schools."

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