High Point teachers: ‘It’s socially and emotionally exhausting’

Wantage. Superintendent Scott Ripley said the school is looking into finding a way to ease the burden so teachers aren’t teaching three cohorts.

05 Nov 2020 | 01:16

After their first two months combining hybrid and virtual instruction, teachers at the High Point Regional High School say they are worn out.

Some teachers have seven periods per day and then must work when they get home, said Carla Mancuso, a language arts teacher and the High Point Education Association president.

Some are on Zoom calls at 9 or 10 p.m., she said.

“We’re not complaining, but it’s exhausting,” Mancuso said. “It’s socially and emotionally exhausting.”

She said teachers need training with Google experts, and that the district needs a plan for hardware.

“This administration believes our staff is working harder than any High Point staff in history,” said Seamus Campbell, director of curriculum and instruction. “The students that are struggling are managing because of the love and support from our staff.”

Work life balance

Campbell said carving out work time and personal was the biggest concern the administration has heard from teachers since March 18, when schools closed.

He recommended that teachers and students lay off the work email at 6 p.m.

“That doesn’t mean you can’t if it’s something pressing,” Campbell said.

He said he doesn’t send emails after 6 p.m. And if he must write an email after that time, he usually sets it to send at 7 a.m. the next morning.

“We’re trying to carve out nights and weekends as time when you get away from work,” Campbell said. “This is a challenging one.”

LeeAnn Smith, a board of education member, said she hopes parents won’t allow kids to be on Zoom calls with their teachers at 9 or 10 p.m. Parents should not expect that of teachers, she said.

Campbell said the district is asking teachers to designate office hours three times per week. Students can set up appointments for those hours, he said.

“Our hope is students see this as not ‘I’m bothering a teacher,’ and this can give teachers an out if students need help at 8 or 9 p.m.,” he said. “This can get students to ask questions during these hours.”

Mancuso said teachers feel like they’re not doing as good a job as they want to because of the struggle with technology and having multiple cohorts. Teachers feel like it’s already February because of the stress, she said.

Right now, High Point has two cohorts attending campus. About 30 percent of the student body is fully virtual. Superintendent Scott Ripley said the school wants to find a way to ease the burden so that teachers aren’t instructing three cohorts.

But he doesn’t want to make any mistakes now that the county, which was once designated green for its low number of coronavirus cases, has has advanced to yellow amid the recent spikes.

“It’s a nightmare for the entire country,” school board member Debbie Anderson said. “I want everybody to know we are empathetic to what’s happening. What I’m listening to do tonight is that everyone’s working their darndest to do the best they can, and nobody has an answer. The fact that you guys are consistently monitoring, checking in, and finding any way to improve our situation should be applauded.”

“It’s a nightmare for the entire country. I want everybody to know we are empathetic to what’s happening. What I’m listening to do tonight is that everyone’s working their darndest to do the best they can, and nobody has an answer.” Debbie Anderson, school board member