Students, parents join Geneva teachers on picket line for second day of strike

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GENEVA, Ohio (WJW) – Representatives of the teacher’s union and the Geneva City Schools are scheduled to meet late Thursday to try and reach a resolution that would get teachers off of the picket lines and back in their classrooms.

The district and union negotiators were able to reach agreement over salary and benefits months ago but remain divided over virtual learning. Teachers, including David Yost, say the district wants them to teach in person and online at the same time.

“The bad part about the webcams is, you know, if I’m on the other side of the room, the kids at home can’t hear anything, so this year they gave us laptops and they said, ‘Maybe you can take the laptop with you when you go places,'” said Yost.

In a written statement, the district says union leaders and the district have agreed to terms on all of the matters in their contract at least twice, but the union members continue to reject it.

Another meeting was planned for 5 p.m. Thursday at which the union hopes the superintendent will consider a counter proposal the union says it presented to the district at the end of last month.

“Even though the language from the board changed in their proposal to us and says that there would be no requirement to do synchronous teaching in the classroom and online, what they are saying is that we now have a choice. We can either do that or teach them another program that we create on our own while they are at home and then track the amount of time that they are putting in and make different assignments for them,” said Cheryl Ramsey, a union spokesperson.

Ramsey says that only complicates matters for teachers who already have a lot on their plate.

“I’m hoping that she agrees to dedicate a teacher to our online students rather than splitting up the duties of a teacher that already has more on their plate than is reasonable. That’s my hope,” said Ramsey.

On Wednesday, students at the high school were sent home early, describing a chaotic scene in many schools with teacher’s aides and even custodians overseeing students without teachers in the classrooms.

On Thursday, all of the students in the high school remained at home, learning remotely with a program teachers say the superintendent bought for use specifically during the strike.

It is a program the teachers say the district can also use while they are in the classroom to relieve them of having a dual duty of teaching in person and online simultaneously.

In the meantime, the teachers who are picketing are joined by parents and students and say they feel as though the community supports them.

“We support them 100%. We are not happy with the current online situation that the kids are dealing with because the teachers are on strike, but it doesn’t matter because we know the teachers are on strike for the students,” said Amber Carter, the parent of a senior.

“I was emotional last night with all the thinking of all the support that we have garnered from people I haven’t seen in 20 years, people I haven’t seen in even 30 years and families and connections I didn’t think were there in this volatile political climate. I really thought that was all lost,” said teacher Matt Deering.

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