RED WING (AP) -- It had the feel of the first day of classes at Red Wing High School -- except it was well below freezing, frost covered the grass and television crews were on hand.
But most students seemed happy Friday to be headed back to class after a 17-day teachers strike.
"I'm glad to be back," said sophomore Maeta McLaughlin. "It was a long break."
"It got pretty boring," senior Derek Smith said.
Freshman Joe Eberlein had another concern. "I hope I can remember my locker combination," he said.
With a contract settlement with teachers in hand, the school district must now reach agreements with bargaining units for support personnel, secretarial-clerical workers, custodians, and cooks. Mediation sessions with those unions have been scheduled for various dates over the next several days.
As with the teachers, health insurance and salaries have stalled negotiations. But now that the largest bargaining unit -- the teachers -- have a contract that was ratified Wednesday, other unions are hoping for quick resolutions.
District employees who were laid off after the strike began Oct. 22 have been called back.
McLaughlin, along with fellow 10th-graders Jill Fagerlund and Dani Bryant, said that though they were happy to be back, they weren't exactly crushed that only three of the days lost to the strike will be made up.
Fagerlund said she won't mourn the loss of a few days of gym class. Bryant said she likely won't lose any sleep if a few sessions of her speech class can't be made up.
But senior Isaac Rohan wasn't enthusiastic about returning to 7:45 a.m. starts. He said he had grown accustomed to waking up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at the crack of noon.
Lindsay Bordthauser, another senior, said she, too, would have to readjust to getting up in the morning. "I'm used to waking up at 1:30," she said.
Any resentment on the part of students will quickly diminish, senior Carl Nordine said. "Kids just want to be back," he said.
It's possible, though, that not all the kids will be back. At least two dozen students transferred to parochial schools in Red Wing or public schools in neighboring districts because of the strike. It's not clear how many of them will return.
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