Education has become a polarizing topic in the last two years, more so than it ever has been before.
Beginning in March 2020, debates were waged throughout the country whether to have children learn from home or make schools as safe as possible for students to return to and remain in in-person learning. Critical Race Theory, proposed sex education standards changes and other controversial topics have created divisiveness in educators and the public at large and have captured headlines in most major media outlets. Meanwhile, districts still try to navigate issues that educators have faced for years, such as funding.
Despite the negativity and back-and-forth conversations that have settled on education in recent history, teachers continue to do their jobs to the best of their abilities. They show up every day, adapt to whatever changes necessary and do so for the betterment of the students.
Teachers at our local districts are no different. The Fort Calhoun, Blair and Arlington Districts have all battled increased absences due to illnesses and substitute teachers are harder than ever to come by.
To make up for time lost and make sure students who have missed school can catch up, teachers are working an extensive amount of hours outside of the classroom.
The toils of today's education landscape have led to higher rates of stress and burnout in teachers. Frankly, school staff needs a break, but thankfully, administrators at our local districts have recognized that.
This week, Blair and Fort Calhoun schools made the decision to offer teacher recovery days. Made possible by an adjustment of required education hours by the Nebraska Commissioner of Education, teachers now have a couple of days built into the school year to rest.
At Blair, staffers have been granted two days to work from home if they wish and an additional day to work in the classroom without students. Fort Calhoun has allowed its staff two days for teacher work days.
These days are crucial for teachers because it allows them a chance to catch their collective breath. They have time to plan, grade and catch up at their own pace and in the comfort of their own homes, in some cases.
With the hardships teachers have faced recently, they deserve more than a day or two here and there but the districts are working with the hand they're dealt while still trying to satisfy the needs of students. To be able to find two or three days to set aside for teachers to take care of themselves is a commendable effort and one that should be implemented each year, if possible.
Conditions for teachers and staff needs to improve and measures like these help, but we as a general public can do our part to support them as well. They deserve thanks and appreciation, tokens of gratitude and reminders that their contributions are critical to our communities.
It's a hard world for everyone but it should be easier for those who dedicate their lives to ensure children remain safe, educated and ready for the future.
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