School Personnel Stressed, Seek Support

Dec. 9, 2021, midnight ·

Frustrated teacher (Stock photo)
Frustrated teacher (Stock photo)

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People who work in Nebraska’s schools, from teachers to para-educators and bus drivers, are stressed and leaving because of COVID, and need more support. That’s according to a new survey by the Nebraska State Education Association.

NSEA, the state teachers union, got more than three thousand responses to a survey of its members. Union President Jenni Benson said 88 percent said there was a shortage of para educators, or “paras,” across the state, and 97 percent said there was a shortage of substitute teachers in their schools. As a result, teachers are being stretched thin.

“You’re covering classes for colleagues, you’re losing your plan time, you’re working more and you’re more stressed. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that all of these things are combined together,” Benson said.

Benson says the state is getting more than a billion dollars in COVID relief funds from the American Rescue Plan Act passed earlier this year. She says some of that should be used to relieve people working in schools.

“What we did ask for was a thousand dollar bonus for all staff that work in public or parochial schools across the state -- so custodial, bus drivers, teachers, educators -- across the state. It’s a one-time ‘we know how hard you’re working. You realize it’s not the sun, the moon and the stars but it is a ‘thank you’ for that,” she said.

The bonus proposal is expected to compete with ideas for spending on other purposes ranging from business internships to developmental disability services in the legislative session that begins next month.