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Teachers Strike Shutters Every West Virginia School

Jennifer Hanner, a first-year teacher from Harts, W.Va., center, holds a sign outside the state Senate chambers at the Capitol in Charleston, W.Va., Feb. 22, 2018.

All 680 schools were closed in West Virginia on Monday as teachers statewide conducted a labor strike for the third day.

West Virginia teachers are protesting the rate of pay in their state, which ranks 48th in the nation. The average teacher salary is $44,701, according to the West Virginia Education Association. A beginning teacher salary is $32,435.

Governor Jim Justice has signed teacher pay raises of 2 percent for next year and 1 percent the following two years. But West Virginia teachers say the increases are too stingy, especially as health care costs rise.

Dale Lee, president of the West Virginia Education Association, said thousands of teachers are returning to the state Capitol in Charleston on Monday to exert pressure on the legislature and governor.

"The anger is out there," Lee said in an NEA publication. "When thousands of people show up and say, 'This is not enough and these are the things that need to be fixed,' we hope they'll listen. … I can't talk enough about how our teachers and our education support professionals are stepping up to make their voices heard."

"When's enough enough?" Justice said to the Charleston Gazette-Mail newspaper in West Virginia. "Our teachers need to be in the classroom. The legislature has spoken, and I've signed [raises] into law. Our teachers need to be in the classroom, and our kids need to be in school, and our families don't need to be having to stay home from work in order to be able to take care of their terrible disruption."

Associated Press contributed to this story.