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GIPS gives teachers and staff week off to boost morale

Published: Nov. 12, 2020 at 8:41 PM CST
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GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - Grand Island Public Schools is giving staff the entire week of Thanksgiving off. School officials worry if they don’t give teachers a break now, it could have lasting consequences down the road.

“I think it’s a great chance for teachers to reset," Grand Island Senior High Counselor Alex Niederklein said. "They’re asked to do a lot right now as far as covering classrooms.”

Teachers are being pulled out of classes weekly for testing positive or for being exposed to the coronavirus, and with substitutes in short supply, on any given day there are 10 to 20 classrooms unattended.

Teachers and administrators, in addition to their own job duties, are having to watch these classes during their free time, or schools are dividing students up and adding them to other classrooms to keep them from falling behind.

“They don’t know if they’re going to be able to get their lessons taught because they may be covering for another teacher or bringing other kids in just a variety of things, and so their lives and their worlds have been kinda turned upside down and that’s very stressful,” said GIPS Human Resources Executive Director Wayne Stelk.

Teachers are dealing with their own personal impacts from the pandemic. They’re also worried about catching the Coronavirus.

“Within their families alone they’re seeing people test positive, and so then they have to take care those people on top of their job and regular responsibilities, so they’re really stretched thin and just can use that extra time,” Niederklein said.

Officials fear if teachers don’t get a mental health break it could affect their performance.

“What’s the use of continuing to fight this battle if the quality of instruction is not as good as we feel it needs to be, the quality of our cleanliness, I mean just the quality of everybody’s work,” Stelk said.

They hope this paid time off will give staff the energy they need to finish the school year strong. They encourage them to spend it however they like whether it’s with family or to catch up on work, but they also stress the importance of staff doing it safely to prevent from having more staff vacancies.

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