Ottawa public school teachers burnt out, some students report declining mental health since school began: Survey
A empty classroom is pictured at Eric Hamber Secondary school in Vancouver, B.C. Monday, March 23, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
OTTAWA -- Two-months into the new school year, most parents, students and staff say they're "comfortable" with the COVID-19 safety precautions put in place by Ottawa's public school board during the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, a new survey finds one-third of students say their mental health and well-being has gotten worse since the first day of classes, while teachers report being burnt out.
The Ottawa Carleton District School Board conducted a Back to School survey of students, parents and staff about the return to school and both in-person and virtual learning. Nearly 22,000 students, parents and staff answered the questions.
The survey found 63 per cent of students and 73 per cent of parents are either "comfortable" or "very comfortable" with the health and safety precautions.
When asked how being back in school impacted their well-being since returning to school in September, 35 per cent of students participating in in-person learning said their well-being has worsened. Thirty per cent of students in virtual school said their well-being has worsened since returning to virtual school in September.
Twenty-six of in-person students and 20 per cent of virtual students said their well-being has improved since returning to class in September. The survey finds 35 per cent of in-person students and 44 per cent of virtual students said their well-being has stayed the same since returning to school.
A report for the Ottawa Carleton District School Board says, "Overall students feel their well-being has improved or remained the same since returning to school in person (elementary) and virtually (elementary and secondary)."
"Secondary in person students were more likely to indicate that their well-being has declined."
The Ottawa Carleton District School Board provided a list of comments from students. One student said, "I feel like I'm going to burn out soon. I have (chemistry) and math right now it's just a lot of studying and evaluations and non-stop stress."
A secondary school student said, "Workload is a lot and overwhelming."
Meantime, staff say while they're comfortable with the health and safety precautions taken at the school, many are reporting being burned out.
When asked how comfortable you are with the health and safety precautions being taken at your workplace related to COVID-19, 56 per cent of staff said they were comfortable, while 31 per cent said they were uncomfortable.
The report for the OCDSB says, "Staff are happy to be engaged with students, but the volume of work and feelings of pressure are very high in all areas."
Staff were not asked about their wellbeing in the survey, but several provided comments through the survey.
An educator with the Ottawa Carleton Virtual School said, "The pace of work is exhausting."
Another educator with the Ottawa Carleton Virtual School said, "The sheer amount of work is unsustainable."
One staff member said, "Working too many hours in the day. I know that as teachers, we do work past the bell, but I'm working wayyyy beyond that. I'm often working from around 7 a.m. until around 10:30/11 p.m., and those hours are similar on Sat. and Sunday."
One educator teaching in-person said, "I already feel burnt out and it's only a few weeks in to the school year."
Another teacher teaching in-person this fall said, "Burnout is real. It is coming. You are not prepared for the reality of it."