COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — As the district stands firm on its commitment to providing in-person learning, parents, as well as teachers who called for a two-week pause amidst the omicron surge, are speaking out.

Leo Carter is the parent of an eighth-grader and spoke at a news conference in support of the district’s efforts to keep kids in school. He says virtual is difficult.

“Teachers are real heroes and in this situation of the pandemic we’re going through, that’s like triple fold to me now,” he said.

Last week, the Columbus Education Association, the teachers’ union, released a letter to the public with more than 2,800 signatures calling for a two-week pause on in-person learning.

“It was a learning experience for me to the point that I had to do research with my son and try to help him understand what he was going through,” Carter said. “So, I was actually learning in the process too.”

Columbus Education Association proposed the in-person pause to stabilize staffing issues.

“The learning environment is chaotic. Yes, you’re sending your kid to school, your child to school, teachers are doing the best they possibly can, but in many cases, we’re just warehousing kids,” CEA President John Coneglio said.

“No one wants to continue with remote teaching we all want to be in the classroom, that’s my place,” said Regina Fuentes, a 23-year teaching veteran who added that in-person teaching can be chaotic under current conditions.

Fuentes said she felt insulted watching the district’s latest news conference with Columbus city officials.

“Truthfully we understand the position that the district is in,” she said. “However, we cannot do our job as professionals if we are sick, if we are not well and if you are taking advantage of those teachers that are well, you know, and loading them down, you’re going to burn out.”

Fuentes added that it’s difficult to juggle her own duties as an educator and those of others who call in sick.

Carter said for him, the learning environment is key for students.

“They got all these other distractions at home; they’ve got phones, they got siblings, they got pets and video games and everything else to focus on instead of schoolwork,” he said.

Coneglio agreed with one statement by leaders specifically about substitutes.

“We look forward to the mayor coming into our building and substitute teaching along with Dr. Dixon,” he said.