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Smiles, hugs and 'personal protection devices' this morning at Medford schools

Children smiled and hugged their teachers on the picket lines this morning as classes resumed for the first time since the Medford Education Association went on strike Thursday.

Substitutes were transported by the Medford School District to the schools from their hotels in buses with windows lined with paper to protect their identities. They were also given "physical personal protection devices" — aka white posters — to further shield their identities from the picketers as they entered the schools.

At Howard Elementary, about 15 teachers were picketing and singing "This Little Light of Mine" when the substitutes arrived. Some stood in front of a bus for a few seconds before stepping aside to let the bus pass.

At Hoover Elementary, students smiled, waved and hugged their teachers before entering their classrooms. One student said he misses his teacher already and that she makes learning fun and supports her. Medford police and a Hoover administrator then asked a reporter to leave.

Mail Tribune reporters Teresa Thomas and Ryan Pfeil are tweeting from several schools this morning. Follow them at www.twitter.com/RyanPfeil and www.twitter.com/teresathomas_mt.