Cincinnati Public Schools to end remote learning period

Interim CPS Superintendent Tiamay Amat has committed to a full return on Jan. 24.
CPS superintendent commits to end date for remote learning
Published: Jan. 18, 2022 at 5:40 PM EST
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - Interim CPS Superintendent Tiamay Amat expects a full return to classroom learning next week.

Amat on Tuesday penned a letter to CPS families committing to in-person learning next Monday. The letter is provided in full at the end of this story.

The return date follows a CPS Board of Education vote Jan. 10 establishing a temporary remote-learning period Jan. 12-24.

Jan. 24 was regarded at the time of the vote as a tentative target pending an improvement in staffing shortfalls. Those same shortfalls, rather than the omicron surge by itself, were the basis upon which most board members premised their “yay” votes.

The district presented updated data on staffing levels, safety protocols and community transmission at a board meeting last Saturday.

The presentation shows case averages within city limits have stabilized (chart below.) Moreover, absences in the district, once near 800, fell to 270 on Jan. 14.

The fill-in rate for substitute teachers has increased from 50.8 percent to 68 percent. Thirty-five substitute teachers are currently being onboarded by the district.

Significant vacancies remain in cafeteria, security and paraprofessional staff.

Nonetheless, the board informally agreed on Saturday to move forward with the Jan. 24 return. Amat’s letter effectively puts a seal on that decision.

Community transmission of COVID-19 in Cincinnati
Community transmission of COVID-19 in Cincinnati(Cincinnati Public Schools)

The Cincinnati Federation of Teachers isn’t convinced a return Monday is in the best interest of students or staff.

The union’s Twitter account pointed Tuesday to increasing cases of COVID-19 in Hamilton County, noting the increase creates “extreme risk for the 40 percent of local residents who are not vaccinated, including many of our students.”

The tweet concluded: “Hoping we can get back to classrooms on [Jan. 24,] but it will take more of you to get vaccinated and mask up.”

The board’s most outspoken critic of remote learning, and the solitary “nay” vote on Jan. 10, is board member Eve Bolton.

Bolton recently voiced her concerns on a podcast hosted by our media partners at the Enquirer. She said kids are safer at school than elsewhere—a point made by doctors from Cincinnati Children’s prior to the Jan. 10 board vote—and that “learning loss” during remote periods is both real and potentially devastating.

“I think it’s a very difficult thing to go remote and then promise—we don’t have a lot of credibility—and promise to return on the 24th,” she said.

Bolton clarified she believes the board is “determined to do what it needs to do to help get the administration the administration get the kids back” on Jan. 24.

At the same time, she said the administration was not aggressive enough recruiting substitutes given the problems posed by omicron were evident in November. She also faulted the district for failing to relax high staffing requirements to account for the “crisis” of the last several weeks.

“It’s a matter of making sure you know how to use the forces that you’ve got,” she said. “We got through the hideous crisis of [...] last year and did what we could, and this is a different situation, it’s not the same, so you’ve got to be thinking on the fly.”

Cases and hospitalizations continue to rise in Hamilton County, though the reproductive value appears to have stabilized, and the average seven-day case count shows a decline.

ICU admissions are increasing much more gradually in keeping with omicron’s less severe course of illness, especially among unvaccinated people.

County health data indicate people not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 comprise 95 percent of current hospitalizations.

Health officials estimate the omicron surge will peak in the region sometime in the next 10 days.

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