Disability Justice

1 In 5 Teachers Report Dealing With The Debilitating Symptoms Of Long Covid

Roughly 55% of educators report knowing at least one colleague experiencing Long Covid and its debilitating symptoms.

A second grade teacher showing a student something on the computer. 1 in 5 teachers have reported de...
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Back in March 2020, we all holed up for what we thought would be a short time to flatten the curve of the spread of Covid-19.

Cut to today, and the entire world is still in the midst of the pandemic, and just like at the beginning of this nightmare, essential workers, like teachers, are still bearing the brunt of the burden.

According to a new survey conducted by Education Week, 1 in 5 educators report that they are experiencing Long Covid, the mysterious, lingering illness that some experience after being infected with Covid-19.

Roughly 55% of teachers, principals, and school district leaders reported that they knew at least one colleague who has the condition.

Long Covid affects people in different ways. Some lose their taste and/or smell, even if they didn’t lose access to these senses during their initial infection. Others experience debilitating fatigue, anxiety, depression, heart and lung conditions, and other ailments that impact every aspect of their lives.

Long Covid is one of the many reasons so many schools are experiencing staffing shortages.

Being in charge of 30+ children is exhausting for even the most physically and mentally fit. Teachers have insultingly low pay and often have inadequate health insurance (if their employer provides it to them at all).

Add Long Covid to a teacher’s already too demanding job, and it is easy to see why more and more teachers are leaving education en masse in favor of a career that does not cost them their health and sanity.

Last July, the United States Department of Education officially declared Long Covid a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act. This means that teachers or other educators who are experiencing Long Covid are entitled to accommodations from their employer.

The issue is that in order to get these accommodations, teachers have to provide documentation of their condition. Long Covid is so nebulous in form and severity that some people who have it might not even know it.

It also makes an official diagnosis from doctors more difficult, which means that even if someone needs support as they navigate Long Covid, they aren’t guaranteed to get it.