GIPS taking day off to decompress amid staff shortages

Walnut Middle School 2021.
Walnut Middle School 2021.(Diamond Nunnally (KSNB))
Published: Sep. 23, 2021 at 9:19 PM CDT
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GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - With staff members being stress and overworked, Grand Island Public Schools announced Wednesday it is giving them the day off Friday for a mental health day.

Right now, teachers are close to reaching a breaking point.

“This week particularly has been taxing and that we’ve just had a number of unfilled positions,” said Liz Boyle, Academic Success Coach at Walnut Middle School.

Substitute teacher shortages and illnesses beyond the Delta variant like RSV and other diseases are causing these vacancies. This is forcing teachers to substitute for other classes or having to teach students from other classrooms, doubling its size.

“We have some folks who are out and who have long-term subs who have replaced them and so, our subbing pool in the district is a lot more limited,” Boyle said.

Academic Support Coach Liz Boyle, who specializes in helping teachers with lesson plans and building their craft, has had to substitute four classes this week.

“We’re in a situation right now where we need coverage, we need to have supportive adults in the building and so we are just filling in where we can,” Boyle said.

Boyle never expected the year to be like this and said it’s getting tougher and tougher as the days go by.

“Over the course of the summer our Covid numbers looked better, everything just looked really hopeful and then there’s this nationwide shortage,” Boyle said.

With this Friday being low in terms of coverage, the district decided to give students and staff a mental health day.

“They have the opportunity to reset, so that we are re-charged in order to be prepared and ready to go the long haul. We want to start the year strong, so we can finish strong,” said Dr. Tawana Grover, Superintendent of Grand Island Public Schools.

When Boyle and other teachers heard the news, she said they let out a sigh of relief because self care is just what they need during this challenging time.

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