Local schools to install refuges for teachers, staff to address stress, fatigue – Salem Reporter:

Teachers at about a dozen schools in the Salem-Keizer School District soon will get a place to retreat when the day’s work seems overwhelming.

Backed by a health care grant, district officials are planning to convert some school rooms into “employee wellness spaces.” They haven’t yet settled on which schools will get the special rooms.

There is so much to love in this story, starting with the idea that not every school gets what’s being touted. 

…A survey of teachers last fall answered by 2,948 showed continued issues. 

One out of five teachers said they “almost always” feel overwhelmed at work. Another 56% said they felt that way “sometimes” or “frequently.”

Did they really conduct such a poor survey that they combined “sometimes” and “frequently”? Who knows? The Salem Reporter link goes to nowhere. 

“We know that our employees are struggling in much of the same ways our students are struggling,” said Chris Moore, the district’s director of social-emotional learning and mental health.

If Moore really believes that staff and students are struggling “in much of the same ways,” it would explain a lot. 

Moore said district leaders noted that while students seemed to be recovering from pandemic impacts, “the staff feeling stayed flat.” He said employees experienced burnout and “compassion fatigue.”

“Compassion fatigue” is what you get when your administration and district continually fail to hold students accountable to such an extent that your union has to be file a lawsuit alleging an unsafe work environment. “Staff feeling stayed flat” is one of the great euphemisms of the year. I want to make a t-shirt. 

District leaders have in recent years paid closer attention to employee well-being…

Every teacher I know would dispute this, as apparently does their union. 

…a $50,000 grant from Kaiser Permanente is behind what are sometimes referred to as calming rooms. The district will add some funding with the ambition to get up to 14 schools converted at a cost of $5,000 to $7,000 per room.

We’re going to spend $70,000 to $98,000 on what is at best a small Band-Aid. At least enrollment declines will open up rooms for the project.

…Moore envisions teachers taking a short break from daily duties. Someone else in the school might step in to cover a class so teachers “can look for those small moments of respite.”

I love how much work “might” is doing in that last sentence. We don’t have enough teachers or subs as is. 

“Hey, Bob, I know it’s your lunch, but can you cover my class for a few minutes? I need to go cry in the calming room.” 

Unlike Moore, what I envision is a room of shell-shocked teachers quietly sobbing, self-medicating, or trying not hyperventilate because the school district continues to not discipline kids, hold kids accountable, or enforce standards (academic or otherwise). How many teachers get to use the calming room at once? Surely the spaces will be too small to fit an entire school’s staff simultaneously.  

He said “wellness champions” have emerged among staff at area schools, a key to effective planning for the rooms.

“We really want the schools to own this,” he said.

Translation: When this fall apart, we don’t want any of the blame. 

“What we’re hoping to see is an improvement in staff well-being overall,” with a goal of seeing a 10% increase, Moore said.

Or you could hold students accountable and achieve a lot more than 10%.