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Columbus School Leaders Say In-Person Learning 'Is Best Right Now'

Columbus City Schools Administration Offices in downtown Columbus.
WOSU File Photo
Columbus City Schools Administration Offices in downtown Columbus.

Columbus City Schools administrators continue defending their decision to keep schools open for in-person learning.

School leaders joined Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther and Columbus Public Health Commissioner Dr. Mysheika Roberts at a Tuesday press conference, where they all stressed the importance of keeping kids in schools.

“What’s best right now is being in-person, in classrooms, to the greatest extent possible. Because we know that’s where students are safest,” Columbus City Schools Superintendent Talissa Dixon said.

Over the past two weeks, 41 buildings have had to temporarily revert to remote learning because of staff shortages. The district's 71 other schools have remained open for in-person learning each day aside from January 7, when the district canceled all classes because of transportation issues.

While the district stands by its school-by-school approach, the Columbus Teachers Association, which represents more than 4,000 district teachers and other employees, continues pushing for a two-week move to remote learning to help replenish supplies like masks, clean and make repairs to buildings, and hopefully let the peak of the omicron variant-fueled surge pass.

“It’s comical to listen to folks who haven’t stepped folks in schools to gaslight teachers, basically,” union president John Coneglio said Tuesday, saying teachers feel insulted by administrators continuing to say buildings are safe.

All Columbus schools have been closed this week for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, a professional development day, and what the district calls a “Records Day.”