It was a joyous return for many Eastern Panhandle teachers and students as they returned to school after Governor Jim Justice approved a 5 percent raise.
At T.A. Lowery Elementary School in Shenandoah Junction, there was a big welcome event as students made their way off the buses.
Normally this sort of celebration is done at the end of the year. School officials say, it’s to celebrate the first day back after schools statewide in West Virginia were closed for a teacher strike.
While there were mixed feelings about returning to the classrooms, for the most part students were elated to be back. Fifth-grader Adryana Hoffmann says she woke up as early as 4 o’clock this morning.
“I’m actually kind of happy we’re back at school. We’ve been offered a lot of days and we have to make them up and it takes away from our summer,” said Hoffmann.
Others, well just in the nick of time.
“I woke up at 8,” said Austin Spears, second-grader at T.A. Lowery.
Over at Mill Creek Intermediate in Bunker Hill, classrooms started off moderately normal.
“I’m super excited to be back in my classroom. that two weeks was very stressful but i’m really glad that things worked out the way that they did,” said Marla Reed, fifth-grade teacher.
“Never before has an entire state of teachers and service personnel walked or gone on strike. I think the weight of everything that we’ve accomplished is finally starting to hit people,” said Lynneia Atkinson, President of the American Federation of Teachers in Jefferson County.
Teachers across all 55 West Virginia counties had stood in solidarity for nine days. School officials say they are still figuring out how students will make up the school days.