Lincoln Public Schools use day off for much needed plan time

Published: Jan. 21, 2022 at 6:25 PM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Lincoln Public School students are enjoying the first of their three unscheduled three-day weekends, but it’s not a day off for teachers.

Jorge Vera Chavez, a Spanish teacher at Park Middle School, spent his day grading tests.

“Today will be a great day to get caught up with those tests,” Vera Chavez said.

He said grading and planning have fallen to the back burner because there’s been such a demand for teachers to cover classes. This week, 522 teachers were out sick because of COVID-19 and there’s not enough substitute teachers to go around.

“Everyone is pitching in to cover but we’ve been so short staffed even the principal has had to do that,” Vera Chavez said.

This is why last week, LPS Superintendent Steve Joel announced this Friday and the next two would be planning days for teachers, with students staying home.

Brandi Benson, journalism teacher at Southwest High School said this school year has been really tough. and teachers needed this day.

“These three Fridays are a blessing,” Benson said. “It gives us time to pause and regroup and try and get everything done.”

Both teachers told 10/11 NOW they recognize the sacrifice these days take from families.

“I would want to say thank you,” Benson said. “Thank you from the bottom of my heart for giving teachers a little extra time. I would say the same thing to the people at the district office who helped make this decision. These three Fridays will hopefully get us teachers healthy and students healthy, physically and mentally.”

They said they are vital.

“Teacher anxiety is so high right now,” Vera Chavez said. “We feel like we have so much going on that we can’t do it all in a day. It’s just a sign of relief that we get these extra few days.”

It’s good for students too.

Benson’s yearbook students came in Friday morning to get ahead.

“What I love about this opportunity is on a regular day we only have a set amount of time to work on things,” Benson said. “What’s nice about these days is they can sit and focus and be with the community and alleviate stress as we get into the second semester.”

It’s also good for the students who have been out sick. Vera Chavez said more than 10% of Park Middle School students were out sick last week.

“I had students gone for the whole week and I covered a whole unit last week,” he said. “This gives them days to recover, to not fall further behind from school work.”

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