WEST JORDAN, Utah — Teachers in the Jordan School District are taking some time off Friday as part of their first-ever health and wellness day.
District officials are allowing teachers to ditch the classroom and take care of the most important person – themselves.
Sarah Chiricigno left a career in nonprofit work in Washington, D.C. to teach environmental science to students at Mountain Creek Middle School in Daybreak.
“We would not do it if we did not love our students because it’s really hard,” she said.
Today @JordanDistrict is allowing their teachers to take a break from the classroom, and take care of their health and wellness #KSLTV pic.twitter.com/K4OvmvvMru
— Derek Petersen (@Derek_Photog) February 11, 2022
Her passion for teaching has been tested during the pandemic.
“In January this year when we came back from our December recess, the absences were really bad. There was one day where I had 50 absent students.”
Teachers called out sick too and others, like Chirichigno, felt the added pressure.
“I teach my six classes and then I’ll pick up and teach someone else’s class for a seventh period.”
Dr. Anthony Godfrey, Jordan School District superintendent, said it hasn’t been easy.
“So, it’s been a very stressful year,” he said. “The most difficult we’ve seen in a very long time.”
Teachers are encouraged to access online resources to help manage stress – or hit the gym for free, thanks to local businesses who are showing their appreciation. At Mountain Creek Middle School, they held a yoga class for teachers Friday morning.
“Just to take a pause for a moment and focus on their own health and wellness is really important,” said Godfrey.
Chiricigno says she appreciates the gesture.
“They’re doing what they can. One day of mental health is not going to repair two years of really high stress.”
She worries it may be too late for some of her colleagues who are burnt out.
“I do feel like there are going to be a lot of teachers who leave and I think that the Utah state legislature really needs to think about how they’re going to attract and retain talented teachers in this state.”
District leaders say they’d like to offer more health and wellness days and based on how much the community has stepped up to support educators, they can offer even more resources.
‘This too shall pass away’ this famous Persian adage seems to be defeating us again and again in the case of COVID-19. Despite every effort