What does the issue of sick leave mean for you as a teacher, and the tamariki you teach?
This year we have had two gastro outbreaks, covid, coughs, colds, conjunctivitis, hand foot and mouth, impetigo, suspected whooping cough, fevers and various other illnesses. We are exposed to these in our general working day. We encourage good hygiene (coughing protocols, hand washing etc) but are often coughed, sneezed or vomited on. 10 days sick leave is not enough. None of my kaiako have any sick leave left this year. We have all been away sick with illnesses we were exposed to in our mahi.
What will it take to fix sick leave for kindergarten teachers?
I believe it is in the best interests of tamariki to give kaiako a sick leave allowance above the general population. Not many services/careers involve the risks we put our health and well-being through, without offering PPE or rigid protocols. Also having enough relieving staff available so we can take time off without stressing our team and management. This plays a huge part in being able to rest and recover, knowing the team is ok and tamariki are not being impacted. We have had to ask tamariki to stay home and even had to close our service while kaiako have been ill.
When we fix sick leave, what impact will that change have on you as a teacher, and the tamariki you teach?
Knowing we can take time away from our mahi to get better will be huge. Adding in the stress of not being able to afford the mortgage/rent or even to pay for groceries is taking a toll on teacher well-being. This in turn effects us at mahi. Stressed kaiako do not teach well. Happy, healthy kaiako can engage in rich, adaptive learning opportunities and care routines and rituals for tamariki.