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'Online is not the fix': Columbus parents, students continue to face challenges with virtual learning

The Columbus Board of Education and the Columbus Education Association have reached a conceptual agreement.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Two days before the 2022-2023 school year, Columbus City Schools announced all in-person learning will be moved online after dozens of negotiation meetings with the Columbus Education Association and no deal. 

Since March, the union has been advocating for safer buildings, better heating and air conditioning, smaller class sizes, and a more well-rounded curriculum that includes art, music, and physical education. 

On Thursday, CCS and the CEA reached a "conceptual agreement," tentatively ending a strike that began Monday.

Until then, students are learning virtually.

"We're asking these kids, you know, first grade through 12th grade, to sit and stare at the screen attentively all day where they can't even sit still attentively in school," said Traci Linger, a CCS parent 

Other parents agree that virtual learning doesn't work for them.

"There are systematic issues, things not working, the children not knowing where to go in order to function properly, you know, throughout the day," said another parent, Kevin Mason.

Mason said his 3rd grade daughter struggles with ADHD, and the challenges of going to school are worse, he said, when she must learn virtually.

"I think that being away and not being around your peers for that help, that encouragement, etcetera makes it a little bit more difficult to actually focus," he said.

"My son was a 3.54 student, prior to COVID I had no issues with him studying, turning things in, or you know, being on top of the game. When COVID hit and virtual learning hit it was like a downward spiral," Linger said. 

Linger added that while she doesn't want her son out of school, she's concerned about one of the union's big sticking points: the conditions of Columbus City School buildings.

"It shouldn't be 35 degrees in a building where they're wearing hats, coats, and gloves if that's what you know. This means that this is what it means. And I would have been holed up for a week if that's what it meant," she said.

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