Cincinnati Public Schools' Board President Carolyn Jones released the following statement in response to inquiries regarding the Board's decision to resume blended learning:
Last night, in a 6–1 vote, the CPS Board reaffirmed its decision for students to return to blended- learning beginning the week of February 1. These decisions have been, and will continue to be, filled with emotion. Over the last many months, we have seen this to be true regardless of whether the preference is for in-person or distance learning. I, too, have weighed the issue heavily.
It is no easy task balancing health and safety in a pandemic with what we are charged to do as Board Members, which is to provide our students with an excellent foundation for life.
Based on the advice of our health partners, the incredible job the CPS team has done implementing health and safety protocols, the very low level of transmission of the virus within our buildings, and the rollout of the vaccine to CPS staff, the majority of the board believes that it is safe to begin a slow, methodical, phased-in return to blended learning during the month of February. Those families who prefer distance learning continue to have the option of Cincinnati Digital Academy.
Staffing challenges were the primary reason for a migration to distance learning in November. A combination of increased staffing, a shorter quarantine period, and the vaccine will help address these issues. Our stance that school is one of the safest places for our students to be has not wavered. We are equally committed to continuing to follow the protocols that keep our buildings among the safest places for our staff, and providing leave options for those who are deemed high risk.
The vaccine will make a critical difference in how we move forward. CPS has been one of the strongest advocates for schools to be some of the earliest recipients. As recently as today, Governor DeWine spoke with Superintendent Mitchell and committed to distribute vaccines to all staff who want them as quickly as possible, perhaps even accelerating the timeline.
We know this is a stressful time for families, for students, and for our staff. As Board President, I believe it is my job to help guide the tough decisions in front of the board, to do so with all the information available to us, even as it evolves, and with the academic and social-emotional needs of our students at the forefront of our minds. I believe that, together, we can safely and thoughtfully return our students and staff to in-person learning.
Students in preschool-grade 3 and specialized classrooms will return the week of February 1, followed by grades 4–6 and 9–12 the week of February 15, and grades 7–8 the week of March 1. Most students will follow the same blended-learning group A and B schedules as in the fall 2020. All CPS students will continue with distance learning on Mondays.
Walnut Hills High School also will migrate to an A/B blended learning schedule.