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Central Texas resource center supports districts, teachers through challenging school year

Published: Aug. 31, 2021 at 2:40 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - Central Texas students are back in the classroom, facing another school year during the COVID-19 pandemic as the cases count rises. Meanwhile, districts are looking for ways to stop the spread.

Education Service Center Region 12 supports school staff in 12 counties in Texas, including Bell, McLennan, Limestone, Falls and Bosque counites.

Dr. Jerry Maze, executive director for ESC Region 12, said the center provides training and support for a variety of school functions, teachers and staff.

During the pandemic, Dr. Maze said staff has worked to help schools make connections with health authorities and state leaders as needed. Staff has also helped districts determine what will actually serve students and staff best.

One way that happens is through meetings with area superintendents. Dr. Maze said they bring district leaders in for meetings so they can discuss what’s working—and not working—in their schools.

Many schools in the area are facing issues with staffing.

“Staffing shortages are a big deal. It’s hard,” Dr. Maze said. “Compounding that with the issues of now that we’re back in school, schools are managing caseloads and that sort of thing with COVID among teachers and staff, so the big challenge has to do with keeping school staffed and keeping them open.”

Dr. Maze said they’ve done a lot of training for teacher recruitment and retention. Some parts of the training also deal with managing stress and fatigue during the pandemic.

“It’s what’s led to the shortage, the fatigue, the concerns, the safety, the health issues, all of that,” Dr. Maze said. “When I talk about fatigue, it’s more than just physically being tired, it’s just being emotionally and tired in every other way.”

Dr. Maze said while they can offer support and advice for districts, school leaders have the power to make the ultimate decision on a course of action. He said the best thing parents can do is to keep their kids home if they feel sick, and rely on information from school leadership.

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