Schools in Newton are out again on Tuesday as the teachers strike hits the eight-day mark, making it the longest in Massachusetts' recent history.
Despite no agreement on a new contract, school committee chair Chris Brezski said Monday evening that negotiators had made some progress.
"It feels like we are edging closer," Brezski said, "but there is still a lot of ground to cover."
A representative for the Newton Teachers Association echoed that assessment.
In the meantime, parents have been scrambling to secure last-minute childcare, fulfill their own work responsibilities and keep their children occupied.
Newton parent Taneshia Laird said she specifically chose to live in Newton because of the school district, and that the strike has been stressful.
“I'm mostly distressed following what's going on, getting emails from the school district that, in my opinion, were vilifying the teachers — who, as a parent, I consider the heroes,” she said. “But of course, I'm a working mother, and I'm a single parent, so making sure that my children are occupied. And getting what they need has been a challenge.”
Bryce Hobbs said the strike is bittersweet.
“My daughter and her friends have had some flashbacks to the COVID year of education, where there's just a disorientation of how to go about your day, what this means and whose fault it is,” he said. “Just lots of questions.”
But Hobbs, like a number of parents, is using the strike as a way to teach his seventh-grade daughter about civic duty. He and his daughter spent Monday morning researching unions, workers' rights and labor leader Cesar Chavez before attending a solidarity rally for Newton teachers.
“To me, that’s the silver lining,” he said.
Jared Owen said he and his wife are both Newton parents and educators. They have been taking their two kids out to picket with them every day.
“It's a challenge because we're holding that line between knowing that our kids need to be in school, but also, we need to teach them that they need to stand up for the things that are right,” he said. “My kids are learning to make signs in support, to stand out with the teachers, but I think they're really growing in other ways.”
Owen said he is not too worried about how the strike will impact his children academically because he and his wife have been proactive.
“They're still doing their math. They're doing their writing,” he said. “It's important to us, so we make it happen.”
Hobbs said he and his wife homeschooled their children during the entire COVID year, and they are putting those skills back into practice while school is out because of the strike.
“We've already started to lesson plan at home,” he said. “And it's [the strike is] going to have an impact, and we're going to make sure that they learn.”
Laird said she’s been supplementing her 13-year-old with additional schoolwork that she found from an online homeschool organization. But she adds that the strike has impacted her daughter, who is applying to colleges.
“I have a high school senior, and it's this time that she is to be submitting her grades to the colleges that she's applied to, and she has been unable to do that,” she said. “In fact, a couple of colleges consider her application incomplete because of that.”
Like other parents, Laird said she wants the teachers and the city to find a resolution.
“This is not the global pandemic, this is something that is totally preventable,” she said. “I want everybody to sit down and resolve this in good faith.”