TWIN FALLS, Idaho — The first day of school for the Twin Falls School District is August 19th.
The first day was originally two days earlier, but the district pushed back the start of school in order to put more mental health tools in educators' toolboxes.
Over those two days, the district is offering an opportunity for educators to take a half-day mental health training. The district says they plan to make mental health a priority.
"We've recognized this for a long time," explained Peggy Hoy, one of the people organizing the training. "We've had lots of discussions with teachers around mental health but the COVID crisis and packing up--ending the year in March and not knowing that would be the last time you'd see your students--it kind of compounded everything."
Hoy explains dealing with the emotion of suddenly switching to remote learning this spring had a huge effect on everyone's mental wellbeing.
"It was trauma," Hoy said. "There was trauma not only for the students but for the teachers."
The goal of the training is to equip educators with the tools they need to manage their mental health.
"We want to provide teachers with strategies in dealing with this," Hoy said. "We know when our teachers are healthy they can take better care of our students who need us."
The training will also help educators recognize and address warning signs in students and check-in with their own mental health before the first day of school.
"Watching what's happened this spring, with social-emotional health of students we've seen students struggle with emotional needs while we've been out of school," said Dr. Brady Dickinson, Superintendent of the Twin Falls School District. "It's really hard to be effective in any job you do if you're struggling with your mental health or struggling with social-emotional needs. It really is a situation where we want to take care of our teachers and make sure they're taking care of their health."
The district says they plan to continue offering mental health and wellness training like this one throughout the school year.