More than half of students in Putnam miss school on strike makeup day

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PUTNAM COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- As educators rally in Kentucky, students and teachers in West Virginia continue to feel the impact of a nine day statewide educator strike, that ended one month ago, in a variety of ways.

In a handful of West Virginia counties, students and staff were supposed to return to class for the week Monday, despite the week origianlly being scheduled as spring break.

WSAZ found out that most families in Putnam County kept their children home today.

"As you can see, the parking lot is about half empty," Conie Douglas says Monday afternoon. She is talking about the parking lot of Poca High School, where her daughter goes to school. Her son attends Poca Middle School, but this week, they will not be in class. WSAZ caught up with Douglas a few hours before her family headed out to Kentucky and Virginia for a family vacation.

"The time we get together is precious to us," she says. It is precious enough for her two children to miss a full week of school. The family vacation was scheduled during spring break. That was before the statewide educator strike in West Virginia. County school officials decided to use spring break week to help make up instructional days.

"I was aggravated they were on strike... but I get it, but at the same time, the kids didn't ask for it," Douglas says. Her family is not alone.

Putnam County Schools tells WSAZ there were approximately 40 percent of students present Monday. That number includes students who were not physically in the building but traveling out-of-state with extra-curriculars or athletics.

WSAZ requested but was not given a breakdown Monday for every school in the county.

School leadership at Hurricane High School shared their Monday attendance records with us, showing that 250 students of 1272 were in class.

As for staff, Putnam County Schools reports that 75 percent of teachers were in class Monday. Putnam County Schools brought in 63 substitute teachers to fill the vacancies.

A spokesperson for Putnam County Schools released a statement to WSAZ on behalf of Superintendent John Hudson, saying: "It was best to utilize April 2 through 6 (Spring Break) to maximize opportunities for instructional time before testing for all students including graduating seniors and students enrolled in college, Advanced Placement (AP), and dual-credit courses. If the instructional days had been rescheduled at the end of the current school calendar, it would have resulted in students not ending the school year until mid-June."