Tuesday, August 9, 2022

What mental health resources are available to local teachers during the coronavirus pandemic?

Teachers feeling stressed about remote learning and the coronavirus pandemic have access to mental health resources through their school division. (WYDaily file/Courtesy of Unsplash)
Teachers feeling stressed about remote learning and the coronavirus pandemic have access to mental health resources through their school division. (WYDaily file/Courtesy of Unsplash)

New normal. Sign of the times. Uncertain times.

Grim reality.

Ah, those words have been part of everyone’s vocabulary for much of this year — and perhaps will be for a good part of 2021, depending on the trajectory of this stubborn coronavirus.

The COVID-19 pandemic not only disrupted lives, but it also created highly stressful situations in our everyday dealings with each other as a society.

One aspect is the routine, traditional back to school passage for students and teachers.

Well, not this year.

As students struggle to adjust to remote learning and other stressors during the coronavirus pandemic, those teaching them are also dealing with the increased workload.

Not to mention all the distractions that come with working remotely.

Now that classrooms look different in 2020, how are teachers getting the respite they need and what resources are available to them?

“We have an employee assistance program that is through our health insurance,” said Eileen Cox, spokeswoman for Williamsburg-James City County Public Schools.

She said their staff newsletter contains information and contacts available to teachers. New teachers working at WJCC less than five years are part of the division-wide teacher mentor programs, too.

“We have of course, our school counselor,” Cox said. “If a staff member finds themselves in crisis, they can certainly reach out.”

The counselor can help teachers find community resources or put them in touch with employee assistance services, but they are not going to serve as counselors to their peers, Cox said.

On Friday, WJCC will have a half-day, closing the school division at noon which will allow staff to “kind of recalibrate,” before pre-k students return to blended learning classes on Monday, she added.

Those students will be in the school buildings two days a week with remote learning for the remaining three days.

Cox said hopefully there is not a “misunderstanding” in the community that “our teachers are not working really hard.”

“Remote teaching and remote learning is more work for teachers than their traditional classes that they may have been teaching for years,” she said.

Katherine Goff, spokeswoman for the York County School Division, said the division has an employee assistance program known as an EAP.

The division just launched a wellness site with Cigna for employees to log on, which is updated regularly where they can access financial assistance and mental health services.

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Julia Marsiglianohttp://wydaily.com
Julia Marsigliano is a multimedia reporter for WYDaily. She covers everything on the Peninsula from local government and law enforcement agencies to family-run businesses and weather updates. Before WYDaily, she covered Hampton and Newport News for WYDaily’s sister publication, HNNDaily before both publications merged in December 2018. Julia was born in Tokyo, Japan and moved to Long Island, New York in 2001. A true New Yorker, she loves pizza, bagels and good Chinese food. Send comments, tips and other tidbits to julia@localvoicemedia.com. You can follow her on Twitter at @jmarsigliano

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