Tuesday, November 30, 2021

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Minority-owned Southern businesses get back on their feet post-pandemic with a fund's help; President Biden says don't panic over the new COVID variant; and eye doctors gauge the risk of dying from COVID.

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U.S. Senate is back in session with a long holiday to-do list that includes avoiding a government shutdown; negotiations to revive the Iran Nuclear Deal resume; and Jack Dorsey resigns as CEO of Twitter.

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South Dakota foster kids find homes with Native families; a conservative group wants oil and gas reform; rural Pennsylvania residents object to planes flying above tree tops; and poetry debuts to celebrate the land.

MN School Staff Feeling Weight of Pandemic

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Monday, October 25, 2021   

MINNEAPOLIS - Minnesota students are back in class today after a mid-October break for annual teacher workshops. Not only are there lingering concerns about how kids are coping with learning, there are signs of the pandemic affecting school staff as well.

Minnesota educators say they continue to see signs of students dealing with more anxiety. That extra emotional stress carries over to social workers, teachers and other staff.

Ann Peterson, principal for the Northeast Metro 916's area learning centers, said there's a feeling of defeat in not being able to reach students who fell off the radar during distance learning.

"I mean after so many attempts," said Peterson, "and after a while it's like, 'Well, I feel bad every time I reach out and hear nothing.'"

She said they're frustrated because many students and their families have been deeply affected by the crisis, and staff want to help get them back on track at school.

Groups like the Minnesota School Social Workers Association say it's important not only for staff to look out for students' needs, but to also embrace self-care as they navigate the latest stages of the crisis.

Tami Schumacher, a second-grade teacher from East Grand Forks, said in her entire career she has never felt as overwhelmed in looking out for her students.

"I go into school everyday with a positive attitude," said Schumacher. "And you know, I love what I do, I love what I do. But I'm tired."

She encouraged administrators to ease pressure on teachers to make sure students are caught up academically, and focus instead on stabilizing their mental well-being.

M.J. Gilbert - director of field instruction at the University of Minnesota School of Social Work - said it isn't surprising to see signs of burnout, especially when some staff face barriers in making connections with students.

"I have kids and families that are suffering," said Gilbert, "and I don't have the resources in my hand to provide for them."

She said the added pressure might lead to more educators leaving the profession. Meanwhile, others in the education community say they hope districts hire more cultural liaisons to boost outreach to families of students who haven't returned to school.


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