The Medford School Board declared a state of emergency earlier today as it prepares for the fast-approaching strike deadline of Feb. 6.

The Medford School Board declared a state of emergency earlier today as it prepares for the fast-approaching strike deadline of Feb. 6.

In a board meeting today, the board passed emergency resolutions that would give Superintendent Phil Long extra authority, prohibit picketing on school property, restrict signs and banners on district facilities, and authorize spending to continue school operations in the event of a strike.

The decision also means the board will be in continuous executive session, meaning they do not need to give the public a 24-hour notice before meeting for an executive session, board member Sally Killen said.

The teachers union plans to strike Thursday, Feb. 6, unless several articles in the labor contract can be resolved before that date. Bargaining teams from the district and union met with state mediators separately Tuesday for about 10 hours but did not settle any of the lingering issues. Both sides will meet with state mediators again Wednesday, Feb. 5, in a final effort to wrap up the labor contract and avoid a strike.

This afternoon, Long announced details about how schools would continue operations during a strike.

If teachers walk off the job Feb. 6, schools would be closed Thursday, Feb. 6, and Friday, Feb. 7. Classes would resume Monday, Feb. 10, with substitute teachers teaching half days and schools consolidated at selected sites . One school would hold classes in the morning and a second school would have classes in the afternoon at the same location. All sports and after-school activities would be canceled and games forfeited, district officials said.