‘We’re doing the best we can’: Teachers shoulder weight of added responsibilities during pandemic

POST FALLS, Idaho– For the last 20 years, Karen Lauritzen has been shaping young minds. But in all those years, she’s never had a school year like this one.

Lauritzen is a Post Falls teacher who now works remotely with students from four elementary schools. Like most other educators, she’s clocking more hours than ever to create online curriculum, learn new tech tools and problem solve with families.

“I’ve talked to lots of teachers, it’s not just me, who are putting in 20 hours over the weekend, trying to get this stuff done,” Lauritzen said.

While she loves what she does, working extra hours takes Lauritzen away from her family. Her husband has already changed his career so he can be home with their middle schooler as he learns remotely. Lauritzen thinks that sometimes people forget teachers are juggling their own family stresses, like finding childcare during the pandemic.

“You have to help your kids with with their own homework and their own stuff. But, you’re also needing to give to your students and your student’s families,” Lauritzen said. “And there’s only so much you can give.”

The Idaho Education Association (IEA) warned in a recent post that teachers across the state are feeling burnt out. Many are having to bounce back-and-forth between in-person and online learning. Others live every day with fears of COVID-19 exposure at work.

“School employees are stressed out and overwhelmed by the unrealistically increased workload, diverse student needs, and technological limitations to reach all students.”

As a mom, Lauritzen knows how tough this year has been. Now, she hopes that other parents will see the challenges of the COVID-19 crisis from her eyes as an educator.

“We’re in it for the kids,” Lauritzen said. “We want, above everything, just to have the whole community know that we are working hard and we are doing the best we can.”

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