While the stay at home quarantine has turned almost everyone’s lives upside down, educators in school buildings have faced some very big challenges.  Staff quickly converted personal touch, face-to-face teaching style and engagement, and materials, to new classes for Distance learning that could be delivered online.  Along with that, staff help each other, students and families access technology and feel encouraged.  Thanks to our online programs and their help, as well as practice during cold weather closings, MTCS was remarkable in its ability to adapt and meet student need.

Beyond teaching, other staff are getting families what they need, packaging food, supplies and computers to deliver to families.  Still other staff are talking to families and students, being a resource and support during a difficult time.

Connection, relationships and support are paramount.

And all this has been happening while many staff are also taking care of their own families, perhaps managing Distance learning at home with their own children.

It is challenging, exhausting and important work.

It‘s easy to remind staff to care for themselves.  But when and how?  MTCS Superintendent Erlandson, the Board of Directors and the leadership team took it a step further and told staff that the Friday afternoons, dedicated to professional development, would become a self-care time.  No one allowed to work.  No exceptions.

Everyone is grateful for this time and it is another way that MTCS is different, adapting to meet the needs of its students and staff.

Here is the letter all MTCS staff recently received:

Dear MTCS Staff,

With the support of the MTCS Board of Directors, Superintendent Erlandson is directing all staff to make note of and honor a change in Friday afternoons for the remainder of the distance learning period.

All building directors and principals are to provide staff with a designated time that they are to conclude working on Fridays.  Because we recognize the tremendous amount of work that all are partaking in, the increased anxiety, feeling to do more, navigating uncertainties, and putting off practicing self-care because there is more to do, each program director or principal will provide a cut off time that meets the needs of the individual site.  To be clear, for the remainder of the distance learning period, MTCS will no longer utilize Friday afternoons for professional development or other work related matters.  

This is a directive to stop working no later than the designated time per the site director/principal for Friday afternoons until further notice.  All MTCS staff are engaging in PD throughout the work week and many are putting in more hours working under the distance learning model and/or taking on additional stress with life during COVID-19.  We are also aware that many of us are good at telling others to engage in self-care while continuing to not do so for ourselves.  Rather than survey folks about what they need (which continues to remain important), direction is being given to tell you what you don’t need.  

What you don’t need is more work, anxiety, and time that you are giving to others rather than taking for yourself.  For Friday afternoons, please do not email or engage in anything related to work.  Knowing that we will all stop emailing and engaging in other work related activities, we are giving ourselves permission to not feel obligated to be on-line and doing one more thing.  

You deserve this, you are valued, and we can all do better at practicing self-care rather than talking about it.  On behalf of the MTCS Board of Directors, Superintendent Erlandson and MTCS Cabinet members, thank you for continuing to be amazing and stepping up in ways none of us could ever imagine possible. 

With sincere appreciation,