Teachers group says mental health issues, burn out more prevalent than ever

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Posted at 5:55 PM, Dec 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-18 18:55:09-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — As the pandemic continues and more people contract COVID-19, one professional teachers group says mental health is more important than ever.

In Rutherford County, the school board met to discuss the difficulties they face as the second semester of school begins after winter break.

They discussed how the school system would handle a hybrid system of both in person and at home schooling. Superintendent Bill Spurlock expressed concern over teachers missing school due to illness in January and February. He also made this comment:

"Here, currently, is the worst we've had it in a long time. I think there's a lot of people who have a lot of anxiety about this and it's creating an issue with our staffing. I think we have teachers that take off sometimes just for what they call mental health. Well, I've never had that luxury before but it would probably be a month that I would take off," he said.

The comment about mental health wasn't well received by Professional Educators of Tennessee. JC Bowman said teachers began contacting him about the comment.

"There's a lot of issues going on and particularly, to take light of it," said Bowman. "Teachers have been quarantined, they've had a lot of different issues and had a lot of stress put on them and a lot of change they've had to take. They took those comments pretty offensively."

A spokesperson for the Rutherford County Schools said the comments were made in obvious jest. He said the superintendent was empathizing with teachers. Also, the plan to start a hybrid system in January was to protect both parents and teachers.

The school district revealed a plan to teachers and parents Friday evening. It still needs to be refined, but they're trying to keep everyone safe, said the spokesperson.