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West Virginia counties nix spring break after teacher strike

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    Pleasant Valley fourth graders Connor Atkins, left, Makenna Laymon-Cutlip, and Cooper Kuneff work on their Language assignment on the first day back to class following the teachers strike Wednesday.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. >> Some county boards of education in West Virginia are canceling spring break to help make up for nine days of instructional time lost during the recent teacher strike.

Putnam County schools announced today it will use its spring break April 2 through 6 as five instructional days but will “work with students and their families” who might have vacation plans. The statement didn’t specify details. The county also will use a professional development day on March 16 for regular classes.

During the strike last week, the Jackson County Board of Education made a similar decision to cancel spring break.

West Virginia schools Superintendent Steve Paine said earlier today that how those makeup days are determined is solely up to the state’s 55 county school boards. That can include the option to cancel spring break but excuse families with valid vacation plans.

“We have encouraged all districts to seek the ideas of their students, their parents, of community members and others as they figure out how to make up the nine days of instruction,” Paine said. “We also made very clear to our districts that they need to be very flexible to accommodate the needs of families during this time. It wasn’t the kids and their parents who were the cause of this.”

Paine said missed class time also can be made up by adding school days in June or using accrued instructional time from longer school days. According to state law, schools cannot be in session past June 30.

Gov. Jim Justice has asked county superintendents to be flexible to meet the required 180 instructional days. He’s said students “have suffered enough.”

Paine also clarified that teachers were paid during the nine-day strike and won’t receive additional compensation for the makeup days.

“They’ll have to work for those nine days that they’ve already been paid,” he said.

Classes resumed Wednesday after the strike that began Feb. 22.

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