By J.D. Davidson
Students in Ohio’s third-largest school district went back to the classroom Tuesday after a judge denied a teachers union request to block a transition to blended learning in Cincinnati.
Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Lisa Allen denied the Cincinnati Federation of Teachers’ request for an injunction to block the Cincinnati Public Schools’ partial return to classrooms. The union said it will study its legal options after the ruling.
“The judge failed to recognize the union’s fundamental right to enforce terms of its contract with CPS,” Union President Julie Sellers said in a statement. “The contract requires CPS to co-operate with CFT on safety issues and gives union members to right to file grievances contesting unsafe working conditions.”
The CPS school board voted in mid-January to return some teachers to the classroom, beginning this week. Some students would return beginning Tuesday. The plan includes returning half of the students at each school on Tuesday and Wednesday, and the other half on Thursday and Friday. Mondays are remote learning for all.
Allen said in her ruling there is not just cause for a delay.
When filing the lawsuit, the union said a survey of members showed 80% of CPS teachers said they would be uncomfortable returning to crowded schools and classrooms for in-person instruction until COVID-19 vaccine doses are distributed and can take full effect.
“We had hoped to collaborate with CPS so we could assure our members and the entire community that our schools are safe as possible before children return to class,” Sellers said. “Unfortunately, the board chose to ignore the concerns of teachers, staff, and many CPS parents. As a result, we cannot assure our members or parents that schools will be safe as they reopen starting [today] and in the coming weeks.”
School employees throughout the state became eligible for COVID-19 vaccines this week if school districts presented a plan to the state that returned students to at least a blended-learning model by March 1.
Cincinnati Public Schools is the largest school district in southwest Ohio, with 35,977 students, and ranks behind Columbus and Cleveland as the largest in the state.
Originally published by The Center Square. Republished with permission.