'We're all trying our best': A school office admin's tearful plea for understanding
Leslie Lascelle shared this photo of herself on Facebook on Sept. 23, 2020. (Leslie Lascelle / Facebook)
TORONTO -- An Ontario elementary school office administrator’s tearful plea to families has been shared widely after she described her experience of being yelled at, ignored, and blamed by parents upset with COVID-19 policies.
Last week, Leslie Lascelle wrote a lengthy Facebook post in which she shared how stressful her job has become during the pandemic.
“This is what happened when I got home tonight. I cried. I cried at work yesterday. I also cried 3 different times last night after getting home from work,” she said in the post. “I am an Office Administrator at an elementary school and this is how my day has gone.”
She then went on to explain that she was crying because of the added stress she and other office staff have been under as they keep track of students who are kept home from school because they are sick, call families to pick up children who have fallen ill, file attendance and illness reports for public health units, answer parents’ questions about the new policies, and conduct screening for any visitors to the school.
“I’m crying because I have to call home for a child who is sick and risk getting yelled at because I have now inconvenienced a parent who has to get a Covid test for their child. I’m crying because I have been told to get my s**t together because a policy has changed and someone doesn’t agree,” she wrote. “I am crying because I have 400 children and 50 staff to help try and keep healthy & illness free during a Pandemic.”
Lascelle, who works at Viscount Alexander Public School in Cornwall, Ont., also pleaded with families for more understanding when they’re contacted by school staff about their children.
“The next time you answer the phone and it is one of the school office staff calling, please remember that he/she has probably already been yelled at, spoken down to, and just right out disrespected and is already nervous about calling home again for a student,” she wrote.
She also reminded parents that school administrators are often the ones who comfort students when they’ve been injured, forgotten their lunch, and missed the bus.
“We wear many hats in the office and many times we work in the shadows going unnoticed. Be kind and be thankful that there is someone looking out for your child when you can't be there with them,” she said.
Since it was published a week ago, Lascelle’s post has received more than 18,000 likes and has been shared more than 27,000 times. Most of the commenters have expressed gratitude to Lascelle for shining a light on the plight of school administrators who are trying to stay organized during a chaotic time.
Lascelle explained that she decided to write the post because she felt there had been a lot of attention given to teachers’ efforts during the pandemic, which she said was deservingly so; however, office staff should be recognized for their hard work as well.
“I work with great teachers every day and I understand that they're struggling, but what is frustrating for us as the support staff is we have to do our jobs and be able to do our jobs for the teachers to be able to do theirs,” she told CTVNews.ca during a telephone interview on Wednesday.
For the most part, Lascelle said parents have been understanding, but when they’re not, she said it’s the office administrators who bear the brunt of their frustrations.
“For myself and the other girls in the office, the anxiety is high now when the phone rings… you just know what's coming,” she said. “The frustrations of the parents, they can be quite vocal, you know, they can be swearing at us on the phone, some of them just kind of say, ‘I’m not coming’ and they hang the phone up and then you try calling back and they won’t answer.”
The office administrator said she hopes her message will serve as a simple reminder to families that school staff are just following public health guidance to keep everyone safe.
“We're all trying our best, we all need to work together. Safety is the number one priority,” she said. “Everybody just needs to be kind and just slow down a little bit.”