Teachers are disproportionately affected by long COVID according to new data

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The second highest group of sufferers with long COVID work in teaching or education according to new data from the Office for National Statistics.

3 out of every 100 people working in the teaching and education sector are suffering with self-reported long COVID in the four week period ending 6 December 2021 according to the data.

This is a 17% increase from the previous month, the largest increase out of all employment sectors.

Long COVID is when symptoms continue after the infection period and can last weeks or months. It is also known as post-COVID-19 syndrome. The top reported symptoms are tiredness, loss of smell, shortness of breath and difficulty concentrating.

A record-breaking 1.3 million people reported having long COVID in December which is affecting just under 1 in 50 of the UK population.

The estimates do not include those in communal establishments such as halls of residence, prisons, schools, hospitals, or care homes.

The only sector with a higher rate is social care where 3.44% report having long covid.

Tony, a music teacher at a secondary school in London explained her experience with long COVID:

“I’m permanently exhausted and permanently in pain but I’ve got a mortgage to pay and if I don’t go to work then I lose my home. So I have no choice”

The teachers’ union NASUWT have been campaigning to raise awareness of the experience of teachers who are suffering from long covid and are calling for it to be legally recognised as a disability under the Equality Act of 2010.

NASUWT General Secretary Patrick Roach said:

“Teachers have stepped up to the frontline of this pandemic and have put their health at risk to educate our children and young people. It is deeply alarming that the ONS has since identified a high incidence of Long Covid within the profession.”

Patrick Roach, Deputy General Secretary at NASUWT Photo Credit: Gabriel Castro – IEAL

“With the serious risk of emerging variants, more teachers could still be vulnerable to developing this condition and find themselves unable to work, at threat of financial hardship and without sufficient legal protections.”

“Ministers must, as a matter of urgency, provide financial compensation for all teachers, including supply teachers, where their careers have been impacted due to Covid-19.

Department For Education spokesperson said to i in December:

“We are very grateful to all teachers and education staff for their efforts throughout the pandemic, and we have taken a wide range of actions to maintain their safety and wellbeing during this time.

“Long Covid should be treated in line with how other medium to long-term health conditions are in employment law. Supporting staff on sick leave is a matter for schools as employers.”

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