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Thousands of Akron Public School students finished up games, school Friday not knowing if they'll return

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Posted at 10:54 PM, Jan 06, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-07 10:28:09-05

AKRON, Ohio — Thousand of Akron Public Schools students left their classes and extracurricular activities Friday afternoon not sure if they will return to school buildings come Monday.

Nikki Taylor was emotional watching her son play in the Ellet versus Firestone basketball game Friday.

“My oldest son is a senior and this could be his last basketball game,” she said. “I’m a ball of anxiety and I have been ever since our union announced their plan to strike.”

If the Akron Education Association and the Board of Education don’t come to a resolution, the union will strike on Jan. 9. The major issues between the two sides: wages, health insurance costs and safety inside school buildings for students and teachers.

Akron Public Schools told parents if a strike were to occur, students would learn online and sports and school activities will be paused.

“We need to be in school, we need to have our doors open, and the kids need to be active and this is not good for anybody,” said Pepin Harper, a mom of two boys in the district.

Taylor echoed her sentiment.

“Everybody has seen the effects of our kids not being in-person so the the fact that they’re even considering doing it again, instead of supporting our teachers, that’s where I have a problem,” she said.

Both Taylor and Harper are anxious about what the future holds but said, no matter what, they’ll support the teachers.

“It’s not over until it’s over. I won’t put anymore energy into worrying about this until we know what happens and we will support our teachers all the way until the end,” said Taylor.

Harper added she hopes the union gets what they’re demanding.

“The teachers need to be given what they want. They need support. They need protection, they need that. Why can’t we give that to them?” she asked.

News 5 also caught up with APS parent John Smith at the Garfield High School versus East High School Friday night game.

He said he doesn’t think a strike is the right move.

“I think it’s bigger than student behavior and the community should be aware of that, that there are other issues here such as money,” he said. “I don’t think a lot of parents are open to all of the facts.”

He said there are other ways and tactics to deal with student behavior as opposed to a strike.

“We need to, as adults and educators, to be figuring out a better solution to dealing with behavior, if it’s a behavior issue,” he said.

But all of the parents who spoke to News 5, were worried about the implications a strike may have on the kids.

They’re hopeful an agreement will be made before Monday.

Akron Public Schools has updated its FAQ page regarding a potential strike, just click here.

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