In the event of a teachers strike, Marysol Rodriguez has a plan.

Her son, a sophomore at Edison High School in Minneapolis, will watch his three younger siblings while she heads off to work cleaning houses. Rodriguez, a single mother, doesn't like it, but that's the solution the family devised.

"He is very mature. He understands the situation," Rodriguez said in Spanish. "He supports me very much, but it is not his responsibility."

Rodriguez believes her children's educators deserve proper compensation and hopes Minneapolis Public Schools and its teachers union come to an agreement. But the ongoing discussions feel like another twist in a two-year period that's been anything but stable.

"We just got out of this pandemic crisis, and it felt like things were just starting to go back to normal," she said. "Now I think about the strike and it feels like there will be some emotional repercussions."

She's not alone.

Parents in Minneapolis and St. Paul are anxious about March 8, the day educators in both districts are set to go on strike if their unions don't reach an agreement with their respective districts. Union leaders in both districts filed intents to strike Feb. 23, triggering a 10-day timer that has families planning for yet another disruption to their children's education.

The Twin Cities districts, which together enroll more than 7% of Minnesota's public school students, are at a standstill with their unions over budgets for mental health support, starting wages and class sizes, among other things.

Educators say districts shouldn't be making cuts because of historic state surpluses and the infusion of federal aid meant to address the pandemic. District leaders claim rising costs and revenue shortfalls because of declining enrollments mean they can't afford to concede to union demands.

Meanwhile, the potential of a strike has left working families scrambling to figure out what to do with their kids if schools shutter.

Michaelena Seals is stocking up on groceries and educational toys and hunting for websites to bolster her three school-age children's education should St. Paul teachers hit the picket line.

"We have to keep them learning," said the single mom who works full-time and part-time jobs.

A strike, she said, "Would be pretty devastating. But with the distance learning [of the past two years], I had to be flexible, and I had to ask my employers to be flexible and work with me."

St. Paul mom Erica Valliant, too, has learned to adjust on the fly — thanks to two years of upheaval. With a 3-year-old in Head Start, a 4-year-old in pre-K, a 9-year-old in elementary school and a 12-year-old in middle school, Valliant said she's no longer intimidated by the prospect of her kids being sent home.

"The COVID stuff has kind of prepared me for it," said Valliant, whose partner is a stay-at-home dad. "You get used to living in the moment. You get used to uncertainty when it comes to the schools.

"But my kids really like school," she said. "They're going to be pretty bummed out [if there is a strike]."

It's a frustration that's all too familiar for Gloria Velazquez.

Just before the Minneapolis district shifted to remote learning amid staffing shortages at several schools, Velazquez's granddaughter, a kindergartner at Emerson Elementary, tested positive for COVID-19. Velazquez had to miss more than a week of work to care for the girl and monitor her learning.

Velazquez felt ill-prepared to keep the child up on her lessons. But at least it was something, even if she felt her granddaughter fell behind when she attended class virtually.

Velazquez hates the idea that her granddaughter won't even have the option of learning online. If nothing else, she wishes families could guide their children through virtual modules while their teachers are on strike.

"I'd like it if there were a meeting at the school where they taught me how to find lessons for her on the Chromebook," Velazquez said in Spanish. "Even 10 minutes of school per day would be beneficial."

Velazquez sympathizes with teachers who feel underpaid and likened the district's complaints about rising costs to the plight of families dealing with record inflation.

"Everything is getting more costly for us, too," Velazquez said. "Teachers deserve a good salary. And we need our kids in school."

Beyond worries about her granddaughter's education, Velazquez fears she can't afford the added financial burden of paying for day care.

Other Emerson parents are facing a similar conundrum. That's why the school's parent-teacher association is working with two local churches to provide child care for parents and guardians who can't otherwise afford it.

In fact, parents and educators at all five of Minneapolis Public Schools' Spanish immersion programs have teamed up to make sure they're broadcasting the full range of their resources to families across campuses.

Molly Dengler, co-president of the Emerson PTA, said she and other parents began using What's App to communicate with families after they noticed the low response rate to their e-mails.

Dengler, an educational coach who works for a nonprofit, said she personally feels Minneapolis Public Schools' position could be more empathetic toward its educators.

"I think that teachers will always want the best for their students," she said. "The strike is because they care about the welfare of students."

Like many parents, Ericka Minus empathizes with her son's third-grade teacher at St. Paul's Maxfield Elementary School. Because of teacher shortages and other pandemic-fueled challenges, the teacher has had to add a second-grade class to her workload.

"They are stretched to the max right now," she said. "I completely understand where they are coming from.

"But my thinking about [a strike] changes every day. For a lot of families, a strike is going to be really hard ... I just want this to get settled so the kids can get back to school."