CINCINNATI (FOX19) - Should Cincinnati Public School District students be in the classroom five full days per week this fall? Mayor John Cranley said he believes so Thursday.
Under the blended learning plan approved by CPS’s board earlier this week, CPS students will be in school either two or three days per week and spend the others learning remotely from home.
That plan won out over a five-day in-person option in part because not every school in the district has the space to practice full social distancing while allowing every student back inside. Some schools would have to resort to 3 feet of social distancing, half of what is recommended by the CDC.
The blended plan was also the cheapest option, though it will still cost an additional $23 million to implement.
Cranley contrasted CPS’s plan with those of the city’s suburban school districts, several of which have elected to return to five-day in-person classes.
“What I don’t want to see is city school kids at a competitive disadvantage to suburban and private school kids,” he said.
Cranley said COVID-19 does not currently appear to be dangerous to young people and that no one under the age of 30 has died from the virus in Cincinnati.
To support his case, the mayor turned to an advisory report issued Tuesday by the American Academy of Pediatrics encouraging schools to have the goal of “having students physically present in school” despite the rising tide of COVID-19 infections nationwide.
The group claimed current evidence suggests having students go to school during the pandemic isn’t as risky as one would think. Young children and teens seem less likely to get infected and spread COVID-19 infections, though questions about the novel coronavirus still linger.
The pediatrics organization also said that for students, “evidence suggests that spacing as close as 3 feet may approach the benefits of 6 feet of space, particularly if students are wearing face coverings and are asymptomatic.”
More: “Lengthy time away from school and associated interruption of supportive services often results in social isolation, making it difficult for schools to identify and address important learning deficits as well as child and adolescent physical or sexual abuse, substance use, depression and suicidal ideation.”
Cranley nearly repeated that quote verbatim, warning of “stunted development, educational setbacks, anxiety and social isolation.”
The mayor’s suggestion remains only a suggestion. He says he does not plan to take action to dictate a calendar to CPS.
Still, some CPS parents on social media sounded off Thursday.
One called the suggestion a “tragic decision” that would create massive problems for thousands of CPS families.
Another wrote “It won’t be safe to reopen schools unless we get the COVID infection rates down in Hamilton County” and asked the mayor to mandate the wearing of masks.
CPS board members declined to comment.