Richmond Public Schools will close Nov. 1-5, as teachers and staff are at risk of burnout, according to Superintendent Jason Kamras.
"Over the last couple of weeks, I've heard directly from dozens of teachers, principals, and support staff about how stressful this year has been," Kamras said. "Many have shared that they're on the brink of burning out — even leaving — and it's only October."
Richmond public schools will close on Nov. 1 and Nov. 3 for mental health days, Nov. 2 for Election Day, Nov. 4 for the Diwali holiday, and Nov. 5 for parent-teacher conferences, according to Kamras's letter to parents.
The time off is needed to release the mental stressors on Richmond Public Schools instructors, Kamras said.
"Some of the stressors are beyond our immediate control. Chief among these is the toll that COVID-19 has taken on our community," he said. "Many staff members are still mourning the loss of loved ones; others are still caring for those who are ill. In addition, many spouses and life partners of our employees have lost their jobs and are struggling to find their footing."
Several stressors are within the realm of control for Richmond Public Schools, and the district announced it would take action to address three in particular.
These include: doing too much, not having enough time, and students "exhibiting significant trauma from the past 20 months," Kamras said.
Additionally, no new programs, initiatives, or curricula division-wide will be introduced, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.
"If something's not already in place, it won't be added this year. Period," Kamras said. "In addition, I've asked the Leadership Team to think through ways we can scale back on non-essential activities. We need to do less, better."
Furthermore, the school district will bring in 100 new lunchtime monitors and reassign over $3 million to expand relief for the mental health of students, Richmond Public Schools officials said.
"Students are exhibiting significant trauma from the past 20 months, and we need more support to help them. I wish I had a quick fix for this one, but I sadly do not," Kamras said. "Many of our students faced multiple pandemics before COVID-19: poverty, racism, gun violence, and more. The last 20 months have only exacerbated these."
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Original Author: Luke Gentile
Original Location: Virginia school district gives teachers week off for mental health