Medford schools closed on Thursday

Medford schools will be closed Thursday, Superintendent Phil Long announced this afternoon in a letter addressed to parents and community members.

Medford School District officials and members of the teachers' union resumed contract negotiations with a state mediator today, starting at 9 a.m. The negotiations will likely continue throughout the day and "possibly into the morning hours," Long said in his letter posted on the district's website.

"To provide certainty for parents in arranging child care, I want to let you know that the District is closing all schools Thursday, Feb. 6," he said. "Depending on whether and when the contract is settled, the school closure may continue through next Monday."

Teachers plan to strike Thursday unless the district and teachers union are able to resolve several key issues within the labor contract before 6 a.m. Thursday.

Long's letter did not say which issues were still unresolved.

As of Monday, the district and Medford Education Association had yet to agree on compensation, health insurance premiums, early retirement benefits and the length of the contract. Language regarding working conditions also was up for debate.

"We know this is a difficult time for our students, their parents, our staff, our School Board and the community at large," the letter read. "We appreciate all the expressions of support we have received as we try to reach agreements that will best serve the long-term interests of our students."

If the contract is not resolved in the next 15 hours and teachers do strike, school will also be canceled Friday, Feb. 7, and Monday, Feb. 10. Classes would resume Tuesday, Feb. 11, with substitute teachers and a modified schedule.

— Teresa Thomas

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