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Northeast Ohio parents brace for uncertain start to school year

Families consider adjusting work schedules.

SHAKER HEIGHTS, Ohio — Sharon Holbrook works from her home in Shaker Heights. Her 5th, 7th and 9th graders may soon be working from home too.

“It doesn’t seem ideal for anybody,” Holbrook said. “I think we all know that.”

This week, the teachers’ unions in Shaker and Cleveland Heights demanded remote learning for fall. The districts have yet to announce whether they will go that route.

In the meantime, parents such as Holbrook are planning for remote teaching and in-person options, and what that could mean for their own schedules.

“Maybe I’ll be working later into the evening where I would normally be working in the daytime, or maybe I’ll be working from 6 am to 8 am,” she said.

The CDC recently pressed to reopen in-person.

The agency issued guidelines which encouraged cloth face coverings, hand hygiene and disinfecting often.

It also recommended re-purposing unused buildings, holding class outside, and grouping students into cohorts or pods.

But some districts are worried that may not be enough.

Lorain Schools pushed back the start of its year to September 8th to better prepare.

“We won’t even let our kids come to school without all the proper shots and things and now we’re dealing with a deadly pandemic and we’re finding reasons to say, ‘Hey we need to go back now,’” Lorain School Board President Mark Ballard said.

In Summit County, the health department has asked to push back sports until October 1st.

“What we don’t want to have happen is we don’t want kids to start back to school and then have numerous outbreaks, numerous groups of children quarantined, and then they end up having to leave school,” Donna Skoda, Summit County Health Commissioner, said.

It all comes after Cleveland landed on an unsettling map.

The White House recently identified it among 11 cities that could become the next possible coronavirus hot spot. Columbus made the list too.

This weekend, White House Task Force Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx was there addressing the problem. On Monday, she will be in Pittsburgh.

She has acknowledged that kids can get sick.

“We certainly know from other studies that children under 10 do get infected,” she said. “It’s just unclear how rapidly they spread the virus.”

Dr. Birx praised Ohio’s statewide mask mandate but suggested that bars and restaurants may need tougher measures.

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