SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH (ABC4 News) – “We knew that stress would be on the rise because we were facing some community conditions that were very real,” said Sydnee Dickson, the Utah State Superintendent of Public Instruction.
Dickson’s comments were made during a webinar addressing mental wellness in a changing education environment on Thursday.
The event was held in partnership with Utah Community Builders, AT&T and the Salt Lake Chamber.
Speaking to attendees, Dickinson detailed the struggles on the past ten months for school systems.
She says the biggest hurdles districts are facing include economic loss, increased social and emotional stress and trauma, a lot to no broadband access, and community virus spread.
“We have eyes on our kids when they’re in school,” said Dickson. “When they’re not in school, we know things are happening in their home and it’s exacerbated when they can’t be at school.”
Throughout the pandemic, students and teachers have shifted from an in-person to online learning model and sometimes both.
Salt Lake City school district is the one district in the state that was strictly online since the pandemic began.
That was until this week. Elementary school students returned on Monday.
“I think if you ask any teacher right now we’re exhausted,” said Holly Reynolds, a Social Studies teacher at West High School in Salt Lake City.
Last semester, she taught 160 students.
“You’re trying to deal with personal things to be this support for a mass group of students,” she said.
The responsibility comes as she and other teachers are trying to ensure their health as well as the well-being of their families.
“At the same time, the stresses of what’s happening in my own family. It’s hard to juggle all of that,” said Reynolds.
Middle and High school students return to the classroom in Salt Lake City in-person learning on February 8th.