NEW ALBANY, Ohio (WCMH) — Parent Jessica Bozak joined a caravan of Central Ohio teachers on Monday who circled the Statehouse and honked their horns. They hoped to raise awareness of the risks associated with sending teachers and students back to the classroom.
Bozak’s daughter lives with asthma and her husband lives with Crohn’s disease and both are immunocompromised, which puts them at a higher risk of having complications should they contract COVID-19.
“It is just not safe to go back into a congregant setting,” Bozak said. “Understanding that an online option really isn’t a great option for everybody, it’s going to be a lot of pain but it’s the safest thing we can do right now.”
Franklin County Public Health issued a recommendation last week that school districts start the school year with remote learning only. Some districts in Central Ohio are planning to open with a hybrid model that includes some in-class and some online learning.
Retired Columbus teacher Paula Garfield argues the risk is too high.
“If we lose one child, and that’s one too many,” Garfield said. “I’m worried about our teachers, I’m worried about our children.”
The New Albany Board of Education planned to discuss reopening options during its Monday evening meeting.
A school district spokesman says 23% of students have already committed to an online-only option for the first semester. Some parents hope the district will allow a full return to the classroom option as well.
“Really, I think they need to be in the classroom,” said parent Thomas Roberts.
Roberts said the classroom experience matters. He wants his children to go back to school and said with the exception of teachers who might be at high risk, the teachers should return to school also.
“If it’s a younger teacher who’s not the target audience and they’re healthy. Guess what? We pay you to teach our students, please get back in the classroom,” Roberts said.
Westerville teacher Geoff Mize said these are decisions that impact entire communities.
“It’s not just going to impact the people in the building and anybody that may carry the virus into the building or pick it up at the building is going to carry it home,” Mize said. “They’re going to carry it out to the playgrounds. They’re going to carry it to their houses of worship and wherever they happen to go.”