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Teachers Union Urges Two Week Remote Learning Period For Columbus City Schools

Columbus City Schools District Office.
Nick Evans

Updated January 11, 2022 at 1:43 p.m.

The Columbus Education Association on Tuesday called for Columbus City Schools to go remote for two weeks to help combat the worst of the omicron variant surge.

The teachers union urged members to sign an open letter by Wednesday at noon.

The letter states the two week pause on in-person instruction would allow the district to "secure and distribute proper masks, deep clean our buildings and potentially make repairs to the HVAC systems that are not working."

Teacher unions in other cities including Los Angeles and Chicago have made similar demands in recent days.

Columbus City Schools had as many as 17 schools operating remotely last Thursday.

Twenty-four district schools were scheduled to operate remotely Friday before the district declared a calamity and canceled all classes because of transportation issues.

Four district schools were operating remotely on Tuesday due to staffing shortages, including Arts Impact Middle School, Hilltonia Middle School, Parsons Elementary School and Wedgewood Middle School.

District officials released the following statement:

"The District appreciates the work of all employees throughout the pandemic and their willingness to be flexible to serve our students. We started the week with just three schools in remote learning, and the remaining 110 buildings are continuing with in-person learning. We are providing additional support where needed. We are in daily communication with union leadership as we evaluate whether to transition individual school buildings to remote learning. This process involves looking at the number of absences and the types of absences, starting in the afternoon and continuing into the evening and early morning hours. This process has allowed us to safely have as many students as possible in their schools for in-person learning. We will continue to rely on the guidance of public health experts, who have advised us that our mitigation efforts are working. These practices include universal masking, frequent hand washing, and social distancing where practical."

Matthew Rand is the Morning Edition host for 89.7 NPR News. Rand served as an interim producer during the pandemic for WOSU’s All Sides daily talk show.