Wyoming County teachers give students special send-off ahead of - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

Wyoming County teachers give students special send-off ahead of strike

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GLEN FORK, W.Va. (WVVA) Tears, hugs, and singing filled a Wyoming County playground as students left school for the last time before what could be an extended strike. 

The staff at Glen Fork Elementary and Middle Schools gave students a special send-off to let them know the show of solidarity is not just for teachers, but for them. 

"This wasn't an easy decision. It wasn't easy for anybody. But it's something we had to do," said Teacher Debby Clay. 

Thursday marks the beginning of a two-day walk-out among teachers and support staff in their fight for higher pay and better health benefits. Last week, lawmakers passed a bill that would provide teachers a two percent raise this year and a one percent raise for each of the following three years. But the West Virginia Education Association's representative Dale Lee told lawmakers Wednesday it will take a five percent raise up front to stop a walk-out. 

"I teach middle school students. We've done a lot of discussion on this. I've showed them numbers. They understand what we're doing and why and we have their support," said Lori Graham, a teacher at Glen Fork Middle School. 

After students released dozens of red balloons in the air, the staff sent a strong message to the students who stayed.

"At our school, we're a family. This is hard because we're not going to see family for a couple days. But we want the kids to know what we're doing and why," added Clay. 

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