Under pressure

Teachers’ mental health put to test amid pandemic expectations

Orator Staff

“My husband was fired because of COVID so I have felt trapped since I am now the sole paycheck.”

“Many students are failing and I can’t reach them. I feel like a failure this year.”

“Teachers always over- work, but this has multiplied our overload. Early mornings, late nights and no sleep.”

These are just some of the comments made by Bryan High teachers regarding this school year and teaching through this pandemic. COVID-19 has made life rough for everyone; there have been constant changes and learning to adapt to the new world, but this has been especially challenging for teachers.

A survey was sent out to all Bryan High teachers. Fifty of them responded and out of those 50 teachers, over half of them admitted to having at least given serious thought into leaving teaching and switching career paths since the start of the pandemic. That’s 26 teachers our school could potentially lose this year.

It goes without saying that losing that many of our teachers would be detrimental to our school. We have so many great teachers and to have them leave, well, it doesn’t just hurt the school district, but it hurts us as students and it hurts future students.

Think of your favorite teacher. Think of all of the memories you have of them. Now, imagine going to school and them not being there anymore. That teacher could be one of the 26 on the verge of quitting.

If all of these teachers leave, who is going to be there for us? Yes, the district can hire new teachers fresh-out-of-college, but how would they compare to the teachers who have been here for years and built the bonds with us students already, who bleed green and gold, and have the experience under their belts to make us feel more confident?

Part of the reason why teachers are contemplating leaving the profession they love is because they are starting to feel disposable. However, Omaha Public Schools isn’t the only district making teachers feel this way. It is a nation-wide situation.

Locally, teachers have been attending OPS Board of Education meetings and utilizing their union, the Omaha Education Association, to voice their concerns about the stressful conditions they are under due to the pandemic. At a board meeting on Sept. 21 teachers voiced their thoughts on the return of students.

“What bothers me the most is that teachers are going to end up making all of this work,” teacher Katie Wiig said. “We’re going to sacrifice our health and we’re going to exhaust ourselves to the point that we are more susceptible to illness because we can’t bare the idea of not being enough for kids.”

Teachers are scared, they are putting their lives on the line for their profession. They’re expected to be around students and other staff, with vague information about contact tracing and quarantining.

Teachers need more support from their districts and need to feel valued. Communication needs to be better and there need to be realistic standards. They are just humans and shouldn’t be expected to be superheroes.

We students also need to do our part. We need to actually do the work and pay attention so our teachers don’t feel like they are failing us and themselves. We are the reason they continue to go through all of this. We owe it to them.