West Virginia parents find ways for kids to fill days during teacher strike

West Virginia parents find ways for kids to fill days during teacher strike
John Leonard via CNN
West Virginia parents are struggling to figure out what the teacher strike means for their kids' education.

With every single public school in West Virginia closed, parents are struggling to figure out what the teacher strike means for their kids’ education.

The work stoppage has carried on for eight days because legislators have not yet met teachers’ demands for a 5% raise and better benefits. As the uncertainty for a solution piles up, parents like Roberta Henry race to plan their children’s schedules.

“We don’t know if school will be in session day-to-day until the evening,” she told CNN. “With the mess going on at the Capitol, I have gotten a message that school will be in the next day and another message that it won’t be less than 10 minutes later.”

Henry’s daughter, Olive, is a first-grader at Village of Barboursville Elementary School in the city of Barboursville. In addition to no classes, activities such as sporting events and Reading Across America Day have been canceled at Olive’s school.

Henry, who just had a baby, has resorted to taking her daughter to the local YMCA and the library to make up for missed instruction time, as well as working with her on math and reading packets.

“She initiates that herself because she’s hungry to learn. I’m worried she’ll lose that from not being in that structured (class) environment,” Henry said.

But, like other parents, she is upset state officials are not giving teachers what they’re asking for.

“To me, a 5% raise is the least we can do,” Lynn Swann said.

Her daughter Emily is a junior at Greenbrier East High School in Fairlea. At the beginning of the school year, Emily’s teachers warned that students who missed more than five days of class would not be able to receive a passing score on their AP exams. Emily is currently taking five AP classes.

Although Swann is concerned about her daughter making up for lost curriculum, she is quick to point out that there are still teachers taking the time to send online assignments and provide food to students who rely on free and reduced breakfast and lunch.

Considering all that educators do for their students, Swann feels that eight days off school is a low price to pay to make sure teachers get the wages and benefits they deserve.

Cindy Lavender Bowe, mom to an eighth-grader at Eastern Greenbrier Middle School, agrees with Swann.

She was a public school teacher and her husband was a coal miner before they started a small family business. “We understand the importance of what teachers are standing up for,” she told CNN.

During her son’s unexpected break, she drives him to spend time with family two hours away so he does not stay home alone.

Trying to make the best out of the extra time off seems to be a recurring theme for parents.

Kimberly Herdman is looking for fun activities to do with her kids because she is worried her 8-year-old daughter will have to make up missed days during the summer. She and her husband have canceled three different vacations they had planned, costing them approximately $2,000 dollars.

Still, Herdman says she stands behind the strike.

“I believe my family and daughter will not cross the picket line. I think these teachers deserve this,” she says.