Parents demand answers as Columbus City Schools head back into the classroom

Local News

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Columbus City Schools has announced most students will be starting their hybrid learning model in a few short weeks, but some parents are still concerned that this plan is not the best plan.

“Right now, it’s a blanket statement and that’s not working for families,” said parent Cissy Watkins.

Parents like Watkins are confused, angry and concerned.

“Because my son has asthma and so do I,” she said.

Watkins and others mainly worry about safety, but with a plan now in place for a stagerd hybrid start for CCS students, parents are more upset with the lack of communication from the district.

“The issue isn’t the schooling, it’s the action plan and they’re not communicating,” said Shari Kitzmller, parent of a CCS student.

 “There needs to be a lot more thought as to what reopening will look like,” said Alisa Swissa, another parent. “People need to have options.”

They drew up a petition called “Press Pause on the Premature Return” to blended learning.

They created strings of paper, each representing one of the 1,200-plus signatures asking the board to pause reopening, communicate with families and negotiate respectfully with the teachers.

Columbus Superintendent Dr. Talisa Dixon said the district is still in negotiations with the teacher’s union.

The parents have many questions, including what happens if there is an outbreak, what if my child has compromised immune system, and what happens on the school buses and how do they plan on keeping children apart.

Jennifer A. Adair, the Columbus School Board president, released the following statement:

“The Columbus Board of Education understands the anxiety that comes with the announcement of the Blended Learning plan. Our union partners, our teachers, staff, and all of our parents want what is in the best interest of our CCS students, and that is to make sure that they can receive their education and have their social, emotional needs met in the middle of this pandemic. The District follows all COVID health and safety protocols and is doing everything in its power to ensure student’s and staff’s safety. The Board and District appreciates the materials provided by #Press Pause and will take a closer look at the data they presented.”

Parents believe with the severity of COVID-19, they need more concrete information before sending their children back into the classroom.

“If they did have a plan, they didn’t effectively communicate that with anyone in the community,” Watkins said.

The district has been holding something called “Virtual Family Engagement Hour” where parents can ask questions, and CCS staff will answer to the best of their ability. One of those zoom calls was an explanation of what the plan will look like, but didn’t address some of the major question’s parents had in the meeting.

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