Students in Ohio’s largest public school district began the academic year in a virtual setting Wednesday as Columbus teachers continued to strike in pursuit of better working conditions.
The Columbus Education Association union is striking for the first time since 1975 amid a stalemate with the school board. Both sides said its mediator called them back to the bargaining table at 1 p.m. Wednesday.
“The Columbus Board of Education remains focused on getting our students and teachers back in the classroom,” the board tweeted.
Teachers say they want smaller class sizes, a cap on the number of class periods in the day and full-time art, music and physical education teachers, according to CNN. One major complaint is the lack of sufficient heating and air conditioning in some facilities.
“98 DEGREES IS A BOY BAND NOT A CLASSROOM TEMPERATURE,” one teacher’s protest sign said.
The standoff means students will begin the school year in a pandemic-like situation, with virtual learning led by substitutes. Free lunches will be given in takeout containers.
SEE ALSO: K-12 schools fill the teaching void with classroom assistants, virtual lessons, military vets
Columbus is striking against the backdrop of a nationwide teacher shortage. Instructors say they are fed up with their pay and working conditions, including class sizes, the threat of gun violence and swirling political debates about what they can or cannot teach in the classroom.