BOSTON (SHNS) – The state Department of Labor Relations has been “pretty actively involved” in mediating teachers strikes in Malden and Haverhill, Gov. Charlie Baker said Monday, expressing hope for a mediated solution in the next few days but saying that the courts may compel teachers to return to classrooms.

Teachers unions and school committees in both cities failed to reach contract agreements and the week started on Monday with reports that schools in both communities were closed due to the labor dispute.

At a State House media availability, Baker said it’s “obviously against the law to strike” and that the courts could order the teachers to return. “I think it’s our hope that there will be a move to engage the courts in this conversation so that kids are going to school,” he said.

In an apparent reference to virtual classes conducted in 2020 when schools were shut down due to COVID, Baker added, “We all know what happened when kids didn’t go to school.” A mediated solution in the next few days could occur, Baker said, or a court directive could end the strike. “The way to enforce it is to go to court and seek a requirement that they go back,” Baker said. “There is a process here. It’s a legal process. It involves the courts. My expectation is it will be pursued. But my hope is that parties can come to terms and put the contract basically in place and get kids and teachers and staff back in school.”

Boston 25’s Bob Ward tweeted late Monday that a judge had issued an order forcing striking teachers back to work in Haverhill.