UPDATE: Wood Co. Schools to be closed Thursday and Friday for WV teacher work stoppage

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VIENNA, W.Va.-(WTAP) UPDATE: 2/20/2018, 2:55 P.M.

Wood County school officials say schools will be closed on Thursday, Feb. 22 and Friday, Feb. 23.

The closure coincides with a planned statewide teacher work stoppage.

The closures will be a Code C, but all scheduled athletic events will continue as planned.

School officials say if the work stoppage continues into next week, the schools will be under a Code A closure for the duration of the work stoppage.

In school districts across West Virginia, teachers have held rallies outside schools and at the State Capitol in Charleston, asking state lawmakers to raise their pay and to lower the monthly premiums of their Public Employees Insurance Agency health insurance plans, which many teachers say is unaffordable with their low salaries.

In a related issue Tuesday, the PEIA board approved a 17-month freeze on changes that it had planned.

The move comes after Gov. Jim Justice announced the proposed freeze earlier this month to allow lawmakers time to come up with a permanent fix. The PEIA board had to approve the freeze.

The House of Delegates Finance Committee has also approved a bill to transfer $29 million from the state's rainy day fund to PEIA. The Senate still needs to approve that measure.

The rising insurance costs have been a key concern for educators across the state as the threat of a strike looms.


ORIGINAL STORY: 2/14/2018

While some school districts in West Virginia plan work stoppages, Wood County teachers continue picketing to call for a statewide pay raise.

The latest informational picketing took place Wednesday afternoon after school in front of Neale Elementary School in Vienna.

And one of those taking part in Wednesday's picketing believes the community supports them.

"We're standing out here with our signs, and trying to stand up for our profession," said teacher Ronnie Talbot. "And the community response has been overwhelmingly positive; you can tell the entire Mid-Ohio Valley is behind us."

Meanwhile, teachers in four other counties, including Mason County closest to our area, have decided to stay out of classes Friday to rally for pay raises.

Wood County Education Association President Bruce Boston says, while a "work action" has been authorized at the state level, Wood County teachers in his organization have not yet taken such action.

Also Wednesday, the West Virginia School Service Personnel Association has taken a statewide vote, for what it calls a "call to action".

It does not, however, authorize a specific action for the time being.

The action is the first in the organization's history.