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Early Childhood/Elementary Special Education teacher Cody Klintworth reads to kindergarten students during “Camp Kindergarten” earlier this month.

Teachers at Green Lake School, and across Wisconsin, are burned out this year as the pandemic and a lack of substitute teachers significantly has increased their workload.

According to Green Lake School Superintendent Gina Baxter, teachers are facing much more than just stress as they “are functioning at a level that no teacher should have to function at” due, in large part, to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our teachers are teaching virtually and they’re teaching a class full of students, so it’s like they’re teaching double work and double duty,” Baxter told the School Board last week Wednesday. “We don’t have enough subs, so teachers are leaving their class during their prep time to go sub in other classrooms.

“Teachers are pulling every single type of duty that you can imagine. They have duties before school, they have duties after school, they have duties during school and they have lunch duties.”

Teachers are given a 30-minute “duty-free lunch,” but many are giving up that time to help their colleagues, Baxter noted.

Additionally, the pandemic has increased the mental-health needs of students, which requires teachers “to be on their game at all times,” she said.

To enable teachers to catch up, the Green Lake School Board voted unanimously to cancel school for all 4k-12 students on Monday and Tuesday of this week for instructional planning.

The School Board also will look for ways it can help relieve some of the pressure from the district’s teachers, after School Board Treasurer Michelle Grimes asked that the issue be placed on future agendas.

In terms of the school calendar change, Baxter said the School Board did the same thing last year for one day and described the move as something that doesn’t happen in “any given year.”

“Our teachers need time to do the things that we’re requiring them to do,” she said. “We can’t take away the [International Baccalaureate] evaluation visit that’s happening. We can’t take away the fact that they have to collaborate. We can’t take away the fact that they have to do their teacher effectiveness [reports for the state Department of Public Instruction].”

Likewise, School Board Clerk Sue Sorrensen spoke with a representative from Cooperative Educational Service Agency (CESA) 6, which provides consulting and other services to school districts, who recommended that School Boards be aware of the strain on teachers throughout the state.

“It isn’t just Green Lake,” she said. “Many schools are experiencing the same situation.”

Baxter added that the Boys & Girls Club of the Tri-County Area will provide programming for students who needed supervision Monday and Tuesday.

In other news

In other news from the Green Lake School Board meeting:

  • The School Board unanimously approved the resignation of School Board member Sarah Allen, who moved out of the district. “It has been an honor and a privilege to serve on the Green Lake School District Board of Education, which makes it bittersweet to announce that my family and I purchased a home outside of Green Lake,” Allen said in her resignation letter.

Written By

Joe Schulz served as the reporter of the Green Laker in 2019 and 2020, before being hired as a reporter for the Commonwealth in October 2020. He is from Oshkosh and graduated from UW-Oshkosh in December with a bachelor's degree in journalism.

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