Grand Island Public Schools Extend Thanksgiving Break for Staff's Mental Health

Nov. 12, 2020, 4:15 p.m. ·

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

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Grand Island Public Schools (GIPS) has announced they will extend the upcoming Thanksgiving break by adding two mental health days for faculty and staff. The days will be treated as paid holidays for over 1,500 staff members.

GIPS Superintendent Dr. Tawana Grover said these unprecedented times call for unprecedented action. The district has concerns about teacher burnout and the additional stress that comes from teaching during the pandemic. Staff have not been able to have a traditional vacation since March.

"They carry a lot of weight and burden for our students," she said. "So as we use that Thanksgiving time of kindness and compassion, of reflection and gratitude, it was just a perfect time for us to give thanks to our staff and giving them the gift of time."

Dr. Grover said giving staff time to take care of themselves will help them take care of the more than 10,000 students in the district. Michelle Carter is a fifth-grade teacher at Dodge Elementary in Grand Island and president of the Grand Island Education Association. She said the additional days are a huge deal for staff who have families of their own to take care of.

"Having extra time to prepare ourselves for our students, and then also to take care of ourselves... We're just very appreciative that the district has recognized how hard everyone has been working," she said.

Carter said she’s heard nothing but positive responses from staff. The extra days will come on Monday and Tuesday before Thanksgiving, which means the district will be off for the entire week.