‘You have to address teacher burnout’: Canton Schools extends Thanksgiving break

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CANTON, Ohio (WJW) – Canton‘s educators say they feel heard after the Canton City School Board passed an extra day off for students and staff this Thanksgiving break under the recommendation of Superintendent Jeffery Talbert.

This decision comes as the district says many of its educators are covering other classes during their planning time and taking work home to make up for the nationwide staff shortages and the lack of substitute teachers.

“This is just a culmination of him being a good listener and then wanting to do something special for the teachers,” said Paul Palomba, president of the Canton Professional Educators’ Association.

The break this year will be extended from the original dates of Thursday through Monday to include the Wednesday before the holiday. 

In a statement, the superintendent expressed his gratitude to all the staff for their efforts this year while acknowledging the stress and extra work they’ve had to face.

“We’ve been filling in for teachers because of quarantining and all kinds of other things so it’s been very stressful and so this day before the holidays is very special because it gives everybody a chance to focus on their families,” said Palomba.

Talbert also said in a statement, “I hope that this much-needed comp day shows that their work is appreciated and that everyone enjoys an extra day before the holiday.”

Teachers will also benefit this school year from four more staff workdays on top of the two that had already been negotiated. 

“Teacher workdays just to do whatever it takes to be great at your profession and sometimes that’s collaboration and sometimes that’s personal planning,” said Palomba.

Palomba said students will have online assignments to complete on those days. 

“We have other times to personal plan throughout the day but it’s just, a lot of times, we’re missing those personal planning days because we’re plugging holes,” he said.

He said all of these measures go a long way to keeping and attracting staff to the district. 

“You have to address teacher burnout. It is a real thing, it’s very prevalent during this pandemic and something we have to take a good look at.”

The superintendent also said he appreciates the families’ understanding and patience in getting this news with short notice.

The district still plans to provide Wednesday’s breakfast and lunch for students — sending it home with them on Tuesday.

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