District Extends Thanksgiving Break

In an email sent early Tuesday morning to district faculty, Superintendent Nisha Patel announced that she “made the decision to extend our Thanksgiving break,” resulting in school closures for staff and students Nov. 22 and 23, the Monday and Tuesday leading up to Thanksgiving break. The email, titled “Your Social Emotion Wellbeing,” laid out the superintendent’s reasoning: Patel’s colleagues need time to “make mental wellness a priority.”

“Our students feed off the energy and well-being of the adults who surround them, which ultimately impacts learning.” Teachers need time to “recharge and reconnect,” said Patel. Despite the closures, district families will still have options — the district’s aftercare program KidZone will remain open with full-day programming the days of the extended closure. Patel communicated the changes to district families in an almost identical email later in the morning Tuesday.

The decision comes as teachers speak out about mental wellbeing in the district. An article published in this magazine Tuesday explains that many teachers simply don’t feel that they are being supported adequately by the district; Patel’s solution is to give teachers more time to rest and recuperate, whereas some teachers call for lightened workloads. “The first thing that [administrators] should ask is, ‘What can we be doing to take things off your plate in order to make your job more manageable?'” said history teacher Josh Meyers in the article.

Both of Patel’s emails finish with the same anecdote: “Family is a grounding and energizing force that reminds me of the things that are truly important in my life.” She says she hopes the extra days off will allow students and staff to “rest, recharge and reconnect” with the things that matter to them, including family, emphasizing the focus on social-emotional needs for learners and educators.