CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Schools districts across West Virginia are planning for a two-day teachers and school service personnel walk out.
The strike is over pay, health insurance costs and other education issues.
Several counties have announced they will be closed both days.
Kanawha County Superintendent Ron Duerring said there will be no school and that those days will be treated as snow days.
“We have two days at the end that we can use that are OS days. The last day for kids will now be May 29,” he said.
Sports and extracurricular activities have also been canceled Thursday and Friday. If the walk-out continues past the two days, Duerring said they will need to make the days up at the end of the year to complete the required 180 days of instruction.
Duerring said he hopes the strike sends a strong message to state lawmakers.
“I hope they understand that teachers are frustrated. Hopefully it will send a message of please try to take care of this right away so that we can get everybody back to a normal schedule and our kids in school,” he said.
In nearby Jackson County, Superintendent Blaine Hess said his school district will also be closed Thursday and Friday. The days will be made up at some point in the school year. The local school board will make that decision, he said.
“The board, at some point in the future, will be making the determination when those days will be made up. By doing so, that will ensure that students will still get their 180 days in for this school year,” Hess told MetroNews affiliate WMOV Radio in Ravenswood.
Anything can change though, Hess said. His county is prepared to notify students, parents and staff if school is on.
“If we get word from our associations that they intend to work on those days then certainly even the Wednesday evening before we could rescind our decision if the circumstances change,” he said.
There are some school districts that haven’t announced a closure yet. Berkeley County Schools is anticipating the strike, but said he wants to wait it out.
“It’s my hope that the issues will hopefully continue to move, but that we can avoid this,” Berkeley County Superintendent Manny Arvon said on Tuesday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”
Arvon said he plans to make the call after 3 p.m. Wednesday.
The last time a statewide teacher strike occurred in West Virginia was 1990.
Arvon said things were much different back then. He said if he did cancel school, there would be days at the end of the year to make up for it.
“I’m one of the few superintendents that lived through the 1990 strike. The difference there was that those days were not available. The days today in 2018 — you have some days that are available. Hopefully that two days will be enough,” he said.
State School Superintendent Steven Paine released a statement Tuesday regarding the walk-out.
Paine said, in part, “I fully recognize that our teachers and service personnel deserve more and, I personally know the West Virginia Board of Education, our Governor and our State Legislators agree. Unfortunately, the economic realities of our state may not allow everything teachers deserve to take place immediately.”
“I regret that circumstances have led to the announcement of a statewide work stoppage and I am working diligently with all parties to advocate for a prompt resolution.”