The Abbotsford board of education discussed teachers’ mental health and the pressures they may be under due to working through the pandemic for the last two years, and how that should be considered when making future plans. (Photo by The Canadian Press)

The Abbotsford board of education discussed teachers’ mental health and the pressures they may be under due to working through the pandemic for the last two years, and how that should be considered when making future plans. (Photo by The Canadian Press)

Abbotsford school board tells senior staff to consider teachers’ mental health during planning

Two years of pandemic could mean teachers and staff need fewer projects in coming school year

The mental health of teachers in Abbotsford was a topic that came up throughout the most recent meeting for the board of education.

Trustee Korky Neufeld noted at least twice that as senior staff creates plans for the next school year, the mental health toll that the pandemic has taken on teachers needs to be kept top of mind.

He offered that if the district wants to be a “healthy organization” they should “pump the brakes a bit” on plans that could overwhelm staff.

“We don’t know the emotional and mental toll the last two years has played on people,” he said. “I would rather say we do less things well. If we add too many things, we may have some fallout if we’re not careful.”

This was in response to the strategic and budget plan that was presented at the meeting.

Kevin Godden, superintendent, said that staff had done “yeoman’s work” in dealing with staff shortages during the pandemic, particularly during the recent rise of the Omicron variant.

Schools across the province braced for potential functional closures due to sick staff. But Abbotsford only had to have two school closures, both planned functional closures, to allow staff to shift focus to elementary schools staying open.

Godden also applauded secondary school teachers who have shifted well to blended learning online to help their students work from home as needed.

“A big thank you to our staff who helped us get through a very difficult January and February,” Godden said.

“I hope we continue to measure our staff and our district in regards to the long term impact of COVID and the mandates, mentally, emotionally, physically,” Neufeld said. He noted that Dr. Bonnie Henry has warned COVID could return strongly in the fall, and it is important to measure how much it impacts everyone in the district.

Trustee Rhonda Pauls mentioned the support programs the district has put in place since the beginning of the pandemic.

She is hopeful that their support systems will “keep the good people that we have, and keep them well.”

READ MORE: Abbotsford School District expresses interest in becoming Provincial Online School


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