SPRINGFIELD, Ohio (WDTN) – Springfield City School District is turning the week of Thanksgiving into “Wellness Week,” giving students, staff and teachers five days off school to recharge.

Students, staff and teachers at Springfield City Schools will get November 22 through the 26 off. The idea behind it, to give staff and students a break after dealing with the stress of COVID-19 for so many months.

“To say I’m excited is an understatement,” Springfield High School teacher Trish Blair said.

English teacher Trish Blair said teachers in the Springfield City School District are welcoming the extra days off after teaching through the pandemic.

“For some reason, this year has been a trial. Wanting to be motivated, motivating the kids, getting back into the swing of things, it feels like everyone is recovering,” Blair said.

Recognizing that teachers, staff and students are in need of a break, Springfield City Schools will be closed the entire week of Thanksgiving instead of the originally scheduled three days.

“They have been overworked, a stressful time right now, so let’s give them a break, let them rest, rejuvenate, then come back and be their better selves, so they can better support the students,” Springfield City Schools clinical psychologist Martin Johnson said.

The Ohio Education Association president Scott DiMauro said along with the challenges brought on by the pandemic, schools across the state have faced pressures caused by staffing shortages.

“I am hearing more and more from teachers across the state that they are feeling really, really burnt out, they’re feeling really, really pressured and stressed out, and they need to be lifted up,” DiMauro said.

That’s why Springfield’s Wellness Week is just one part of a shift happening in the district to a bigger focus on mental health.

“Springfield has been at the forefront of having district-level conversations, and how can we begin to change some of our programming, not so much that we are putting academics on the back burner, but we’re also including addressing those social, emotional needs,” Johnson said.

Blair said this break could make all the difference before heading into the second half of the school year.

“I feel like we’re turning a corner and things are going to really feel like normal,” Blair said.

Johnsons said the district has also increased their mental health supports within its buildings and is also collaborating with organizations in the county to meet the needs of students and their families.