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Return to class or learn at home? Cincinnati charter schools are leaving it up to families, teachers

Posted at 5:56 PM, Jul 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-14 18:29:21-04

CINCINNATI — Students at three Cincinnati charter schools will have an individual choice, not a district-wide directive, about whether to return to in-person instruction beginning in August.

Mt. Auburn Prep Academy, Riverside Academy and Northside Prep Academy will allow each family to decide whether to send their children to in-person classes full-time, mix digital and in-person coursework, or stay home for the entire school year, superintendent Jamie Brady said Tuesday.

"Everyone wants to be safe,” she said. “We don't want any kind of casualty on our hands."

RELATED: Cincinnati Public Schools parents have mixed feelings about return to school plan, poll shows

The three schools typically serve 300-400 students, but Brady said she expects many to stay home as the COVID-19 pandemic continues without a vaccine on the horizon.

As a result, the students who attend in person should be able to maintain a safe social distance within the buildings.

Brady added that teachers with pre-existing medical conditions or other health concerns will similarly be able to create the school year that works best for them.

“Some teachers have pre-existing medical conditions, and they’re worried, and they’re concerned, and rightfully so,” she said. “So those teachers or those employees that have medical excuses or pre-existing conditions, we are prepared to have them be more on the virtual platform versus in person."

Erin Pleuss, one of Mt. Auburn Prep’s teachers, said she wasn’t worried about returning to in-person instruction.

RELATED: Cincinnati Public Schools teachers 'fearful' of return to in-person classes

“I think we've learned a lot along the way how to minimize things like class teacher ratio social distance,” she said.

Parents will have until July 31 to contact their child’s school and communicate their plans for the upcoming year.

Brady acknowledged the shifting circumstances of the pandemic could force the schools to pivot in the future.

"If we were to have an issue where there is an outbreak, we can easily shift everyone over to the virtual platform, you know, go through disinfecting and the quarantine,” she said.