DECATUR, Ill. (WCIA) – Day two of the teaching assistants strike is underway.
More than 500 students have been told to stay home because their special education and pre-k programs and classes have been cancelled. Parents say they are working to find alternate arrangements, including missing work or hiring babysitters.
Maria Reynolds, whose preschool son has a form of non-verbal autism, said she’s worried about what will happen while he’s out of classroom.
“My biggest thing is I’m worried about backsliding since we’re falling out of routine now,” Reynolds said. “And I’m trying to find other options for this therapies and stuff like that because I can’t afford to go out of pocket.”
She said she is now paying for a babysitter to help care for her son while he’s at work.
Melissa Kramer’s 7-year-old daughter has a hearing impairment. Kramer is now taking her to work. She said she was upset when she learned more than 500 students would have to stay home while others could continue going to school.
“It angered me,” Kramer said. “I started making phone calls yesterday (Tuesday). How can we get my kid into school? How can we resolve this? How can we get these TAs what they need to get back into the classroom?”
Kramer said she wants the board to listen to the TAs’ demands for a fair contract.
“TAs belong in our classroom, not on the sidewalk doing a strike,” said Kramer.
“The TAs, they matter,” Reynolds said. “They support our kids and we should support them. They deserve more than what they’re asking for because they do so much.”
The strike began Tuesday morning following months of failed negotiations.