3 Jul 2020

More teachers and students staying home when ill

9:38 am on 3 July 2020

A spike in teacher sick days is stretching school budgets for relief teachers, the Auckland Primary Principals' Association says.

sick woman flu, cold sneezing into tissue

Photo: 123rf

Association president Stephen Lethbridge said since the lockdown ended schools had been very careful to tell families to keep their children home if they were unwell.

He said people were heeding that message and it had combined with the spread of winter colds to ensure a lot of children were absent in recent weeks.

"In our place last week we had up to about 130 children away out of a roll of 640-650, so that was significant," he said.

"They're away with things like runny noses and a winter cold, nothing Covid related."

Lethbridge said more teachers were also absent.

"The challenge that we have is if we say to children that they need to be off school if they're sick, then we need to follow those same expectations for our staff," he said.

"I think we're seeing a spike across the country in terms of the number of teachers being away, but that might depend on where you are and where the colds are hitting."

Lethbridge said the increase in staff absences was putting a strain on the supply of relief teachers and on schools' budgets for paying those teachers.

"We're tracking to be over in our relief teachers this year and I think that would be the case in a number of schools."

He said schools paid for their relief teachers from their operations grant, which included an allocation for that purpose.

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