This is not my usual topic for a post, but it’s an education opinion piece.
I was recently sick—but am not teaching this semester. (Note: This is not a picture of me sick: first clue, I’m female. 😉 ). I remembered my K-12 teaching days and how I sweated over whether or not to take a sick day.
I tried to find some tips for teachers to support them when they are sick & really should take a day off. Yes, this situation does actually occur: teachers, in schools with oodles of germy students, are not superhuman and do indeed get sick themselves. Sometimes they get seriously ill. Teachers (and other workers in other jobs) have allotted sick days because it’s a fact: we all know people get sick.
I admit I was a bit disgusted to see that most of what rose to the top in Google results were allusions to teachers using sick days indiscriminately or for a “day off” to miss work. There were even statistics that say that teachers take a disproportionate amount of Fridays & Mondays off. (Hey, my doctor’s office is often overrun on Mondays with sick people. Any correlations?)
In one article, a teacher reported how the school administration sent around an email stating that students sick with vomiting or diarrhea should stay home for 2 days before returning to school–but same standard was not in place for teachers.
Another teacher pointed out how much work is involved in staying home–arranging a substitute/teacher-on-call, creating some lesson plans, dealing with whatever other outfall then and upon your return. He then prided himself on only ever taking 2 sick days in XX years of teaching.
Do people abuse the system? I’m sure like every system there are abusers, but teachers do get legitimately sick and rather than coming into school, spreading their illness and extending their time required to get better, they need to take a sick day and visit the doctor.
So, if you are sick and should stay home or in bed— Teacher, take a sick day.