Oct 27, 2021 - Politics & Policy

2 Virginia districts to dismiss schools early on select days to curb teacher burnout

Co-teachers at Yung Wing School P.S. 124 Marisa Wieze and Caitlin Kenny give a lesson to their masked students in their classroom on September 27, 2021 in New York City.
Teachers in a classroom. Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

Two Virginia school districts have announced early departure plans for students on select Wednesdays as a way to alleviate ongoing teacher stress and fatigue due to the pandemic.

Driving the news: The Virginia Beach Public School board voted on Tuesday to end classes two hours early on select Wednesdays for at least the next three months, according to Aaron Spence, the superintendent of Virginia Beach City Public Schools.

  • Suffolk Public Schools also announced earlier this month that students will be dismissed early every other Wednesday starting Nov. 10 through the rest of the school year, according to Anthonette J. Ward, the community engagement officer for the school district.

The big picture: The announcements come as teachers across the nation are increasingly burned out and stepping down from their roles due to persistent stress from the pandemic.

  • "Our teachers are being asked to do more, to cover more, to cover cafeterias, to cover hallways and to cover their colleagues’ classrooms more so than they ever have before," Spence said, per NBC News. "They are not able to prepare for instruction."
  • The Virginia Beach Public School board is approximately 94 teachers short, which, according to Spence, is "something we've never experienced before."

What they're saying: "The one goal during these early release dates is to give teachers back planning time," Suffolk Public Schools superintendent John B. Gordon III said in a statement.

  • "If the planning time is not there, the achievement will suffer, classroom management issues will go up."
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