As teachers head back to the classroom or wait to find out when they will, many are feeling the emotional toll of the unknowns of teaching amid a pandemic.
"It's an amount of pressure that's just unbelievable,” said Bonnie Marlow.
This week, Marlow began her sixth year in Allen ISD.
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The environmental science teacher said she’s grateful for precautions the district has taken, which includes pushing the start of in-person learning back to September 2.
And though Marlow is eager to be reunited with her students, the fear of that day has loomed over her all summer.
"That's a lot to weigh on you as a teacher. I spent the better part of July getting in touch with my financial planner and family and friends talking about who's going to come take care of the boys if something happens to me. Where's the will? Do we have it all signed?" said Marlow. "I'm not 40 yet. I shouldn't be having these meetings."
Licensed professional counselor intern Andrew Simmons, supervised by Alyssa Highland LPC-S, said that fear along with the stress of figuring out how to do their job in a new way has caused emotional distress for many teachers.
“I would say for a lot of teachers this is a somewhat traumatic experience,” said Simmons.
That’s why starting next Thursday Simmons plans to hold a series of free support groups for teachers.
He said among his own clients, he’s heard teachers express feeling anxious, stressed and overwhelmed.
As the spouse of an educator, he contributes most of those feelings to the uncertainty now surrounding their jobs.
In the small virtual groups, he’ll encourage teachers to share those fears and discuss ways to cope.
“It’s ok to not be ok. It’s ok to not know what’s next, to focus on today and understand that even the higher-ups in power don’t know what tomorrow’s going to look like at this point,” said Simmons.
There are eight spaces available.
Simmons said the support group will meet via Zoom August 20, 27 and September 3.
He’s opening it up on a first-come, first-serve basis, but he’ll consider adding more sessions if there’s a demand.
Those interested can contact Simmons at AndrewSimmonsCounseling@gmail.com.
*Map locations are approximate, central locations for the city and are not meant to indicate where actual infected people live.
**County totals below include all 32 North Texas counties, not just Collin, Dallas, Denton and Tarrant.