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Newton schools open during Massachusetts winter break to make up days lost in teachers' strike

Newton students miss February vacation to make up days from teachers strike
Newton students miss February vacation to make up days from teachers strike 02:19

NEWTON - Massachusetts schools are on winter break this week, except in Newton.

Eleven days of missed school during the recent teachers' strike there came at a cost to students, teachers and parents as a scrapped school vacation week.

It was a quick way to make up some lost time, but a decision that sent thousands of families scrambling. 

"Very few people are deciding on a Friday to travel for a week. These plans are six months, a year ahead. People have to plan vacations from work, time off. It's all pre-planned, it's not something you can flip a switch on and turn off," said Newton parent Aaron Sorrell.

One Newton mother kept those travel plans for her eighth grader. 

"We had hotel reservations, and airline seats that weren't easily changeable. We would have had a large fee or we would have gotten a credit, who knows when we could use it. It was important, especially for my son, to see the grandparents," parent Elizabeth Stolar said in an interview from Florida.   

Those absences will be excused this week; still, teachers are striving for a "valuable academic experience" for the students who do show up. 

"I think our teachers have really good plans for the next week, whether we're going to be doing review or we're going to be doing projects. I think they've got it in hand and they really know what they're doing," said parent Maureen Forry-Sorrell. 

But as Newton South High School's debate team returned late Monday night after a three-day meet, they were stung by the thought of returning right back here first thing the next morning.

"It stressed me out a lot at first, I was really looking forward to break. I was going to go skiing with my family in Vermont and I was really sad to have that gone. Especially because I didn't get to do much over the two weeks that we didn't have school, so it didn't really feel like a vacation," said junior Ella Hurwitz.

"I'm going to stay here and go to school. It was definitely worth it to make sure that the teachers got the contract that they needed," added freshman McKenna Levy. 

Bus schedules will run as normal this week and students must be in class to participate in sports.

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