Things That Matter

Texas School District Will Adopt a 4-Day School Week Due to a Teacher Shortage

It’s no secret that the pandemic has brought about burnout across all career sectors — but teachers have been hit hard, categorically finding each passing month more difficult. As per a February 2022 poll, a whopping 55% of public school teachers and other staff stated they were planning to leave their jobs because of pandemic-fueled burnout.

Making the poll even more revealing? Only 37% of teachers said they were planning on leaving back in August 2021. 

School districts across the board have reported teacher shortages since before the pandemic, but the added stress due to COVID-19 has accelerated the shortage by a landslide.

The teachers’ reasoning? A lack of safety precautions, and an overall lack of support from schools. A rate that might just make you spit out your coffee? There are 567,000 fewer public school educators today than there were pre-pandemic. 

Clearly, something has to change if schools want an increase in educators — and a better workplace for all school staff. Seeing teachers across the U.S. have reported anxiety, stress, and burnout due to the added pressure and heavy workload brought upon by the pandemic, the school district of Jasper, Texas decided to do something about it. And it’s working

As reported by ABC, Jasper Independent School District has officially announced plans to unveil a 4-day school week for 2022-2023. The district shared a Facebook post detailing all of their plans, explaining that the school year will still include the required 75,600 minutes plus 5 bonus school days.

As per the Facebook post, Jasper’s district has seen an unprecedented teacher shortage and “countless challenges” within schools, while seeing teachers and staff working “so hard.” In hopes to recruit and retain teachers, Jasper isn’t just adopting 4-day weeks: they will also give teachers $3,000 and staff members $1,500 if they stay with Jasper ISD.

This money would come from the school district’s Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund grants.

Jasper Independent School District superintendent John Seybold told Good Morning America that “the four-day week kind of makes it a little more manageable for them because there’s so much pressure placed on our teachers.” He added, “as a school district, ultimately the best thing we can do for kids is put the best possible teacher in front of them every day.”

Still, not everyone is on board with the 4-day week: while 84% of Jasper teachers voted in favor, only 64% of a combination of parents and staff voted “yes.”

Now that all Jasper students are set to have a 4-day week running from Monday to Thursday starting next school year, both food insecurity and a lack of child care are on many parents’ minds. Still, the superintendent said the district is working with the YMCA and local food banks to avoid both these risk factors.

The plan seems to be working so far: Seybold shared, ​​”where we used to post a job and get no applications, now we’re getting multiple applications for every position.” Now, only time will tell if the rest of U.S. school districts follow suit.

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