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by Matt Trinder
TEACHERS have called for more support for those suffering from “long Covid” as new data reveals the profession has the second highest prevalence rate of the debilitating condition.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that the sector is the second hardest hit, with 114,000 people affected.
This is just behind healthcare, where 122,000 workers have reported suffering long-term health issues after contracting the virus.
The NASUWT teaching union is calling for more supportive sickness policies that recognise the complex nature of long-Covid symptoms, which can see teachers going through extended cycles of illness, leading to sporadic absences.
Improved access to ill-health retirement must be given to provide financial protection for teachers who are too ill to work due to the impact of the virus, the union said.
NASUWT, which held its annual conference virtually over the Easter weekend, also wants to see a financial compensation scheme for teachers who have contracted coronavirus as a result of going to work.
General secretary Dr Patrick Roach said that the figures were “deeply concerning.”
“The number of teachers who may be affected with Covid-related long-term illness could be a ticking time bomb,” he warned.
“Teachers need to be supported by sickness management policies that are compassionate [and they] should not be made to live in fear of losing their jobs or of financial hardship if they are no longer able to work.
“The government should consider regulations that ensure access to ill-health retirement provision for those with long Covid.
“As a matter of urgency, ministers must [also] provide financial compensation for all teachers, including supply teachers, where their careers have been impacted due to Covid-19.”
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