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Columbus City Schools, COTA in talks for possible student transportation

FILE - A Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) bus. (WSYX)
FILE - A Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) bus. (WSYX)
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The second-largest school district in the state just released its back-to-school plan for its students pre-kindergarten through the twelfth grade.

The head of Cleveland Metro School District announced Friday that students with complex needs, career tech kids, and high school seniors who need extra supports will return on March 1 in a hybrid learning model. The last of his kids is scheduled to return on March 15.

RELATED: CCS teachers say it's time to stop charter and private school transportation

“This phased-in approach to re-opening our schools will enable CMSD to honor its pledge to bring students back by March 1,” said district CEO Eric Gordon.

During the last week, Governor Mike DeWine singled out Cleveland Metro, Cincinnati Public, and Columbus City Schools for not meeting their agreements to return all students who wanted to go back to class, at least in a hybrid model, by March first.

Cincinnati Public indicated one high school will remain fully remote due to lack of spacing. CCS addressed limitations with transportation prevented the district from bringing back its general education middle and high school students.

ABC 6 On Your Side looked at the transportation models for these top three largest school districts in the state. Cleveland Metro is allowing one student per seat on its yellow bus transportation.

However, district representatives indicated a large number of its students utilize public transportation. At Cincinnati Public, elementary school students use yellow bus transportation which is also following a one student per seat policy. However, seventh through twelfth graders use public transit.

MORE: CCS mom gains support in demands of returning middle, high school students back to class

With CCS following a one-student-per-seat policy on its buses, ABC 6 On Your Side contacted the Central Ohio Transit Authority. COTA reps indicated they are currently in daily talks with CCS for possible student transportation after CCS contacted them late last fall.

“They asked if we could provide transportation opportunities for students and we have been looking into that process,” said Jeff Pullin with COTA.

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COTA reps told ABC 6 On Your Side that their buses have room to meet the demand for thousands of students who would be trained on how to ride a public bus. Pullin said the average ride time is between 15-20 minutes and up to 35 minutes with an additional transfer. At this point, no final agreement has been reached or further details shared.

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