Some Geneva high schoolers walk out in protest as teachers go on strike

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GENEVA, Ohio (WJW) – It was chaos in a local school district as teachers took to the picket line and then some students walked out in protest. 

The teachers’ union and the Geneva Area City School District have differing opinions on exactly why the teachers are protesting.

Teachers are upset because they say they’re being forced to teach in-person and remotely at the same time, but the school district says they already reached a compromise with union leaders.

Several teachers marched the picket line Wednesday. The union says they are being overworked, forced to teach in the classroom while, at the same time, having to teach remotely.

WJW photo

“It’s very difficult for our teachers to carry a camera around the classroom, especially since our younger students, they have a lot more needs. Some of our elementary teachers have, you know, five, six, seven subjects during the day that they have to do and work with these kids,” said teacher Dave Yost.

Students and parents describe a chaotic scene in many schools, with teacher’s aides and even custodians overseeing students without teachers in the classrooms.

One parent shared a photo of the scene inside Geneva High School, concerned about the lack of social distancing or mask wearing to prevent the spread of COVID-19

“A lot of students were crammed inside either in the auditorium or other classrooms and they even had desks on top of the stage to try to fit as many people as they could in the auditorium,” said student Olivia Vargas.

“There was a lot of people walking out after an hour of school, but at first, we had to go in the auditorum because they were gonna like separate us into groups and we had to go into our Chromebooks and do some work.,” said student Roberto Aparicio.

The district superintendent, Dr. Terri Hrina-Treharn, released a statement to FOX 8, which reads, “Due to some issues that arose today at the high school, we felt it was in the best interest to send students home early and allow them to work remotely. We continue to hope for a peaceful resolution in order to get our students and teachers back in the classroom.”

“They had us all in the auditorium with like 300 of us all clumped together with no masks on and then were putting people and searching them, searching their bags, their clothes, stuff like that, so all of us just left around 9 a.m.,” said student Christopher Watts.

The school district tells FOX 8 they reached a compromise with the teachers’ union on their concerns last month, but the general membership voted down the agreement and hit the picket line.

“I can understand the teachers, I mean, they have to go through a lot, especially if they have to go through some of these parents, so they’re probably stressed like everybody else… If it’s going to help them out and they’re going to teach our kids better, then good for them,” said Christopher’s grandmother, Debbie Watts.

To be clear, we did get parents’ permission before speaking with the students we interviewed.

There’s no word on when the teachers will return to the classroom, but one parent said he will not allow his children to return to school in person until the issue is resolved.

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