A Columbus Teachers Union wants two more weeks of remote learning as Ohio and the rest of the country deal with the latest COVID-19 outbreak.
“We know we keep asking the district what are the metrics and how is it determined whether schools are closed. And they can’t tell us what they use or how they close schools. There’s no metrics or data that they will share with us in how they determine whether or not a school closes,” Columbus Education Association (CEA) president John Coneglio reportedly said.
CEA is asking its members to sign a letter demanding that schools move to remote learning for at least two weeks, as the Omicron variant of COVID-19 sweeps the nation.
“Let’s pause, fix some problems and the district can provide some clarity to teachers on what the metrics are and we can go from there,” he said.
Some Columbus schools have already been forced to move to remote learning due to staffing shortages after COVID-19 outbreaks in their respective schools. Columbus City Schools also closed completely Friday due to staffing shortages among transportation employees.
The deadline for CEA members to sign the letter was Wednesday.
Columbus City Schools Superintendent Talisa Dixon reportedly said that the district does not have a specific cutoff for number of infections before it pauses in-person learning. Instead, she said, it boils down to one question: “can we have a continuity of education in our buildings in person?”
New cases of COVID-19 in Ohio, after hovering around 20,000 per day for the past week, are beginning to slowly taper down. Despite the explosion in cases, deaths have remained at levels typical of the pandemic, with the exception of last winter when deaths from the virus reached their all-time high.
On CBS News’ “Face The Nation,” Dr. Scott Gottlieb who is the former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner, said earlier this week that the Omicron variant has peaked in the United States, meaning that cases should begin to decline dramatically. Other news outlets reported the same.
The pattern appears to be following that of South Africa, where the Omicron variant was first detected. Only about a month after its late November discovery, the virus peaked in that country.
It made its way to the United States in the weeks that followed and has been spreading rapidly since mid-December.
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Pete D’Abrosca is a contributor at The Ohio Star and The Star News Network. Follow Pete on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Columbus Education Association” by Columbus Education Association.