Oakland parents scramble to find childcare in case of teacher strike

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- When Oakland teachers go on strike, about 50 students from Grass Valley Elementary school may end up at East Bay Bible Church.

"We are opening our doors to them so they can learn," explains Arthur Young, an elder at East Bay Bible Church.

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Young says teachers contacted them asking to use the church as a way to take the pressure off frantic parents, who are looking for a safe place to send their kids, even though schools will be open.

Young says the church has space that can serve as makeshift classrooms, as well as a kitchen and bathrooms-- and they are happy help out.

"It's not going to be like they are at their regular school, but at least they will have a place to go," says Young.

Betty McGhee, who runs Betty's Children's Academy next door to the church, says she has been getting about 10 calls a day from parents looking for childcare. She had three tours scheduled just for Tuesday alone.

"It's just parents in panic mode, not knowing what to do with their child while they go to work," says McGhee.

McGhee says getting childcare on such short notice can be difficult since most programs are already full. To help out, she is looking to hire two extra teachers to accommodate the influx of new kids.

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"It is difficult. It does put a hardship on the parents, and us. But we are trying to make it work for everybody," says McGhee.

But these options don't solve every parent's problems.

Josselin Arevalo supports the teachers, but she thinks her six-year-old son is too young for off-campus programs. And she and her husband can't afford childcare.

"Do I want my son (to go to) school, or keep him at home? I will keep him at home, because it is more safe," says Arevalo.

Like many parents, she worries what to do if the strike drags over the next couple of weeks.

Meanwhile, 15 Oakland recreation centers will be open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. during the strike, but will not provide any programming.

RELATED: Oakland schools, teachers prepare for looming strike

All public libraries, the African American Museum and Library, the Oakland Tool Lending Library and the Second start program will be open regular business hours during the strike.

But the city wants to remind parents that children under the age of seven, must be supervised.

Take a look at the latest stories and videos about the Oakland teacher strike.
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