27 Mar 2024

Long Covid 'extremely debilitating' for teachers, union says

10:04 am on 27 March 2024
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Brain fog and extreme fatigue are some of the symptoms teachers are experiencing as a result of Long Covid.

A new study has found that teaching is the most vulnerable profession when it comes to who will experience long-term symptoms of Covid-19.

Otago University associate professor Amanda Kvalsvig, one of the study's authors, earlier told Morning Report that scientists in New Zealand and internationally were now convinced that the prevalence of Long Covid was likely to increase.

"That's a reason to take preventive action.

"There's been a lot of optimism that it will just go away, and we're now seeing very firm evidence that that is not going to happen."

New Zealand Education Institute president Mark Potter told Morning Report on Wednesday that teachers were vulnerable and the organisation has heard from a lot of members who were struggling to continue in the profession.

Long Covid could be "extremely debilitating" and it took a long time to recover.

Mark Potter, Berhampore Primary School Principal.

New Zealand Education Institute president Mark Potter. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

Potter said teachers were experiencing brain fog and extreme fatigue, making a challenging and demanding job even more so.

It was "difficult to sustain" and the workforce was already stretched, he said.

Relief teachers were critical to help schools when teachers were unwell, and even they were hard to find these days.

Being around children made teachers more exposed to ailments and illnesses, Potter said.

But they did not have the same safety measures hospital staff had.

Potter was calling on the government to think about the report and see what it can do to minimise the risk teachers faced and prevent the likelihood of catching Covid-19.

"Like nurses, we nurture and protect the most vulnerable in our communities," he said.

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