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2 Virginia districts will dismiss classes early some Wednesdays to fight teacher burnout

Results from a nationwide poll of K-12 employees released this year found high levels of burnout and stress due to the pandemic.

Two Virginia school districts are preparing to release students early on selected Wednesdays to combat teacher burnout due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Virginia Beach City Public Schools board voted 9-1 Tuesday to end classes two hours early on seven Wednesdays in the next three months, NBC affiliate WAVY reported. The schedule is intended to allow teachers a "breather" so they can have uninterrupted time to prepare for class.

District spokeswoman Natalie Allen told NBC News that the final plan would be shared with parents Wednesday night.

Superintendent Aaron Spence said: "Our teachers are being asked to do more, to cover more, to cover cafeterias, to cover hallways and to cover their colleagues' classrooms more so than they ever have before. They are not able to prepare for instruction."

The district is almost 100 teachers short.

Suffolk Public Schools requested a similar system this month. Early dismissals will begin in November and continue biweekly on Wednesdays through the rest of the school year, the Suffolk district said in a memo.

"Teachers and instructional staff have lost valuable planning and professional development time as a result of the impact of COVID-19 absences and coverage needs, quarantine instructional support requirements, and other circumstances," the memo said.

Results from a nationwide poll of K-12 employees released this year found that job satisfaction plummeted from 69 percent to 44 percent from March to October 2020. Of the roughly 3.5 million full- and part-time public school teachers, 38 percent said working during the pandemic has made them consider changing jobs, according to the report from the Center for State and Local Government Excellence. The vast majority of those surveyed reported feeling stressed (63 percent), high levels of burnout/fatigue (54 percent) and substantial anxiety (47 percent) at work because of the pandemic.