Wamego High principal says current teaching mode is unsustainable, citing fears of teacher burnout

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Wamego High Principal Kale Katt shared concerns Monday with the USD 320 School Board on the difficulties facing teachers during the new format on remote and on-site learning. (Screenshot)

Wamego High Principal Kale Katt says school teachers are navigating curriculum to the best of their abilities, but fears the challenges may be too overwhelming for some.

Speaking to the USD 320 school board Monday, Katt opened up about the challenges teachers are facing in his building. (NOTE: A link to the full meeting video is shared below. Principal Katt’s comments begin at the 1:59:43 mark)

“It’s difficult to juggle your remote students and your on site students at the same time. Teachers have to have every single thing set up on their computer, even different windows pulled up so there’s not that ‘let me pull this up and spend 3 minutes of nothing here, while I lose my remote kids’,” he said.

Perhaps the biggest challenge facing teachers right now is in the area of lesson planning. Katt says rather than spending their planning periods for planning, that time is being spent attending to remote learners. Then there’s the challenge of trying to give students 100 percent undivided attention.

“When you’re on site, you’re their teacher, they’re looking to you for everything. You’ve only got about 50 percent of yourself to give them, because your other 50 percent is with your remote kids at the same time,” he said.

Katt fears teachers will soon begin to panic and may become burned out before too long.

“I fear that the pace we’re moving at right now is not a sustainable pace. I feel like we’ve started out sprinting a marathon and we have just hit a wall with 25 miles left to go,” he said.

Wamego High has 472 students enrolled this semester, with 39 signed up as remote learners. However that number has fluctuated up to 45 to 50 students remotely, because of quarantines.

Superintendent Tim Winter shared early enrollment figures with the school board Monday night.

“Overall we’ve had 1,552 students enroll and 161 of them are remote learners. That ranges from 27 at Central to 49 at West, 37 at the middle school and 48 at the high school,” he said.

Winter says the figures should have no impact on funding for the current school year, but says it is possible it could impact future years. That doesn’t apply to transportation where funding is expected to drop.

“We have less students, unfortunately we might have less students on the bus and have families that are leery about putting their kids on a bus in a small space, so we have quite a few less riders this year,” he said.

There are 391 registered riders compared to 486 the year before.

Students in USD 320 entered their first full week of classes Monday, following a staggered reopening around  Labor Day weekend.

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Brandon Peoples

KMAN News Director and host of In Focus. Contact Brandon at Brandon@1350KMAN.com

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