What does the issue of sick leave mean for you as a teacher, and the tamariki you teach?
Kaiako spend their days surrounded by germs, face to face with tamariki, being sneezed and coughed on, and wiping so many snotty noses. Although we develop strong immune systems over the years, we still regularly get sick, yet we have no more sick leave than someone that sits in their own office at a computer. I can not afford to take unpaid sick leave, but I have run out of paid sick leave. If I get sick any more between now and my sick leave renewal next year, I will have to come to work regardless. This means I am knowingly exposing tamariki to my germs, and the cycle of sickness continues. A teachers role is so demanding, it is not one you can do at half strength because you are unwell, it is not one you can do from home, it is a hands on role that requires one hundred percent all the time. Teachers need greater sick leave allocations.
What will it take to fix sick leave for kindergarten teachers?
Teachers need to be allocated more sick leave entitlements. There needs to be budget for this matter, it is so important.
When we fix sick leave, what impact will that change have on you as a teacher, and the tamariki you teach?
More sick leave means I can stay home when I am sick. I can get better before returning to work. I can keep my germs away from the centre. It means that children are not being exposed to my sickness, just as I ask parents to keep their children home when they are sick. I also think greater sick leave allocations will allow teachers to take mental health days. Teachers are so close to burn out if they aren’t already burnt out. Mental health days would make such a difference.