ST. PAUL — St. Paul teachers will continue to strike Thursday, March 12, as their union and the school district remain at a standstill on a new two-year contract.

The school district canceled classes Tuesday after talks broke off at 3 that morning. Since then, neither side has offered new proposals that would allow mediation to resume.

School district spokesman Kevin Burns said district leaders were discussing in private Wednesday what they could do to get talks going again.

“There is work going on even this afternoon to get to that point,” he said.

Closed-door school board meetings about the negotiations were scheduled for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday evenings.

The St. Paul Federation of Educators said Tuesday night that the ball was in the district’s court; they were waiting for a response to a union proposal to phase in over three years the hiring of numerous new staffers who would provide mental health support and other resources.

Layoff notices

Kenyatta McCarty, the district’s human resources director, said just over 2,000 layoff notices were sent to employees Tuesday, “just in case” the strike goes on so long that the district loses some of its state funding.

Barring schedule changes, the district will fall short of the statutory minimum instruction time if the strike enters next week.

Online school

Meanwhile, the school district is exploring options for teaching students online, if necessary, to control the spread of the new coronavirus. The University of Minnesota announced Wednesday it was halting all in-person instruction.

“We are actually looking at this as we speak in terms of what are the options so that in the event that students are out of school for whatever reason, what tools, what resources and what methods can we provide to help them continue some kind of academic activity,” Burns said.

St. Paul secondary students each have a district iPad they can take home. The district said it hasn’t monitored how many students are using them this week.