UPDATE: Capitol temporarily closed due to crowd capacity issues

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- UPDATE 3/5/18 @ 2 p.m.
Officials said the crowd at the Capitol was so large Monday afternoon that there were concerns by Capitol Police and the state Fire Marshal's office.

For that reason, no additional visitors were admitted for much of the afternoon.

Monday marks Day 8 of the statewide teacher strike. Thousands of teachers and supporters packed the Capitol and Capitol grounds.

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, released the following statement:

“It is time to get our kids back to school, and the only group standing in the way is Senate Republicans. Everyone else agrees on the deal to reopen our schools – a bipartisan coalition of educators, parents, Democrat and Republican House Legislators, and the Governor. But for some reason, Senate Republicans are choosing to keep our schools closed and kids at home over one percent. West Virginia families deserve better. When I visited with educators two weeks ago at the state capitol, they told me they want to be back in their classrooms.

“I’ve seen this dysfunction in Washington. Sadly, just like in Washington, it looks like political gamesmanship is winning the day and preventing a bipartisan compromise led by the Governor to help our educators and public employees, fix our PEIA system and get students learning again from becoming law. I urge the Senate Republican leadership to stop playing games and send our kids back to school.”

Keep checking WSAZ Mobile and WSAZ.com for the latest information.

National Education Association (NEA) President Lily Eskelsen Garcia is in Charleston on Monday to show her support for striking West Virginia teachers.

Principals from throughout the state also gathered Monday morning at the Kanawha Board of Education and walked to the Capitol in support of teachers. A long line of teachers already was forming at the state Capitol. They will be rallying on Day 8 of the statewide teacher strike.

About 40 principals from throughout West Virginia, including from Logan County, gathered in support of teachers. That movement started in Hardy County and spread throughout the state.

Garcia, the NEA president, said she is in Charleston to let West Virginia teachers know they're not alone – that all teachers in the country are there to support them.

Garcia said she believes if the West Virginia Senate would have passed the 5 percent pay raise bill proposed by Gov. Jim Justice and passed last week by the House, the strike would be over. She said the Senate should have trusted the judgment of Justice and the House.

Keep checking WSAZ Mobile and WSAZ.com for the latest information.

WSAZ/Dan Klein

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