COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Columbus and Franklin County leaders are weighing in on the negotiations between the Columbus teachers union and the school district. Their message to both sides: We need a resolution and we need it now.

The leaders said in a news conference Monday that both parties need to think about how many families are relying on schools not just for education, but for structure and social skills.

Mayor Andrew Ginther said it is time for the teachers and the school board to return back to the table with an open mind. He said, while they are doing this, the students must be the top priority.

“What’s important now is for both sides to engage with one another. To keep an open mind, to embrace empathy, reason and understanding,” Ginther said. “And to move quickly and constructively towards a responsible solution. And everyone needs to do this while keeping students at the forefront of every discussion.”

He said students have missed out on too many critical moments in the classroom over the last two years to be told they have to learn virtually once again. He says, as a product of Columbus City Schools, he knows the impact these teachers have on the students.

Mayor Ginther said the teachers deserve to be heard, seen and respected and so does the board. But, he said it’s time both sides sit down together and really commit to getting this resolved.

“We can do this if and only if the district, and the cea return to the table and restart negotiations right now,” Ginther said. “Time is critical and families and children all across Columbus are counting on you to reach a resolution and restore a sense of certainty and stability to the lives of our young people.”

Erica Crawley, the Franklin County Board of Commissioners President, said she hears the teachers and supports them. But coming to a decision in a reasonable time will also prove their commitment to the families they serve.

“Coming back to the table today will be reassuring to our families and our students that we have the same goal in mind and how we get there might differ right now but we can find a path forward,” Crawley said. “As the mayor said we have to remember to keep our children at the forefront as they have been struggling these last two years.”