Eastern panhandle teachers, feeding programs preparing for possible work stoppage

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — It’s still too early to know what the final bill will look like as the sweeping omnibus education bill makes its way through both chambers of the state legislature.

For their part, teachers and service personnel seem to be getting ready to walk out again. Teachers unions across West Virginia have asked members to weigh in on whether they would support a walkout.

In Jefferson County, what’s being described as an Informational Picket and Rally is planned for Tuesday afternoon from 3:30 until 5:30 just off Route 9 at The Potomac Marketplace Shopping Center in Ranson. When last year’s work stoppage closed school for nine days, area feeding programs stepped up to help students who were not getting hot meals.

Lisa Henry of the Berkeley County Backpack program was on MetroNews affiliate WEPM’s ‘Panhandle Live’ Monday morning. She said teachers reached out to her last year when they knew students would be out of the classroom for extended days.

“When they did have the walkout last year, as soon as it was announced my phone blew up from teachers and staff asking how they can volunteer and bring food to help with the backpack program.”

Henry said teachers volunteered and the community came together to make extra food was available to kids in need. She said should the need arise, they have the food – the problem might be actually getting it to the students.

“Generally, how the backpack program works is we pack the food. We get the food to the schools and the schools then hand it out to the kids directly. So families need to come to us. So we will be working with the guidance counselors and teachers and getting the word out to let families know what times they can pick up foods from us if that happens.”

2018’s walkout closed schools in all 55 counties from February 23 through March 7.

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