What does the issue of sick leave mean for you as a teacher, and the tamariki you teach?

The sick leave entitlement of 10 days per year sounds like a lot, but it in reality it is not. This year with COVID swabbing and waiting for PRC test results, for me personally having a melanoma diagnosis and surgery and normal illnesses cropping up, my 10 days were used by March this year.

This impacts all teachers, which puts pressure on us all to come to work when we are not well – financially we cannot afford to be off work.

This impacts on the tamariki when we have trouble sourcing relievers, the consistency of familiar relievers, and also our team working short staffed, under pressure, and burning out. In the past month we have been asking parents to keep their tamariki at home if possible due to no relievers and no staff. We have had no lunch cover, and every week it seems to be another team member is away sick…so it just is a continual rotation of sick team members, no relievers and working with 3 teachers. It’s mentally and physically exhausting.

What will it take to fix sick leave for kindergarten teachers?

We need support with COVID leave – especially when you are asked to say home if you have COVID symptoms. This uses our leave so quickly. Some of our team have had COVID twice, so this also uses up our entitlement (if you happen to have extra sick leave left). More sick days are required – we are feeling under pressure, burned out and there are so many new illnesses that seem to affect the tamariki and in turn the teaching team.

When we fix sick leave, what impact will that change have on you as a teacher, and the tamariki you teach?

It will relieve the pressure teachers have on thinking about the impact on us financially. We will be able to stay home when we are unwell or have COVID symptoms without spreading these illnesses to the rest of our team and tamariki.

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