CLEVELAND — Governor Mike DeWine is ratcheting up pressure for schools to return to in-person learning, building a case that students are struggling.
"And just as adults have felt the strain of this pandemic. So certainly, have our children," DeWine said during a Feb. 9 press conference.
DeWine is urging districts to stick to his March 1 reopening deadline. So he put his focus on teacher and school staff vaccinations.
"In one week, 566 schools have had teachers and staff vaccinated," DeWine said.
On Feb. 17, teachers at Cleveland Heights-University Heights will add to that number.
They will get the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine.
"So we absolutely want to be back," Karen Rego said. "We absolutely want to be back in person. And we know that in person is the best instruction possible."
Rego is with the teacher's union in the district.
She said after almost a year of fully remote instruction, they want to go back but vaccines must come first.
"We've been doing this virtually all this time and we're making it work to the best that we can," Rego said. "So let's just keep going for another month. That's kind of where we stand."
Some parents say holding out on returning to class was the right move.
"So in my experience, I'm glad that they waited so long," said Alisa Bray.
Bray's daughter is in the eighth grade.
"I have a very bright daughter. I don't even think I realize how bright she is until this happens," she said. "She's my baby socialite."
At first, Bray said the choice to go remote was not the choice they wanted to make.
"Education is really big in our household and online learning is not my ideal image of what school should look like," she said "But if I compared how we started to where we are now, I can only say that I'm really grateful."
One of the few districts to remain fully remote, Cleveland Heights-University Heights recorded 19 cases of the virus in students and 32 cases in staff since the start of the school year.
"I'm aware of other school districts that went back and I think it's working for them, too. I don't know if there's a right or wrong to this," Bray said.
One of the districts that went back is Brunswick City School District.
"This has been a very, very difficult situation and changes just about every day," said Michael Mayell, the superintendent of the district.
His district started remotely in the fall then the doors of the district opened again.
"What we did was we brought back our K-6 students every day, all kids every day," he said. "And then we did a hybrid for our six to 12 students."
But when community spread spiked and staffing shortages started impacted learning, "I covered a middle school math class," Mayell said.
Then the district went all remote toward the end of the first semester.
Mayell said spread in the schools is low because "our students have to wear masks. Our staff has to wear masks. There's social distancing going on."
So far, the district reported 188 cases of COVID-19 in students and 99 cases in the staff.
But parents we asked widely said it was worth it to get kids back to what normal school feels like. In a Facebook post on the community page "You Know You're from Brunswick..." News 5 asked parents and guardians to weigh in on the moves made by the district.
Brad said it was 100% worth it to return and that the schools were doing a good job keeping kids safe. A student, Makayla, said it was not worth it to go back. And, Diane, said what so many people this; everyone is going to have a different opinion.
"The number of districts that are fully remote has moved from two hundred nineteen in the first week of January to only thirty-five this week," DeWine said. "So we're happy for that movement."
Brunswick City School District: 5 - Complied with all information requests in a reasonable time frame
Promptly replied to our information requests and granted an on-camera interview.
Cleveland Heights University Heights School District: 2 - Attempted to comply, but failed to provide information in a reasonable time frame
The district refused an on-camera interview request and failed to adequately answer our written questions