10 absent days every school year is the tipping point beyond which teacher absences go from an acceptable level to the problematic chronic level. And on average, teachers are now absent for about 11.8 days.
The National Bureau of Economic Research has said that 10 days of teacher’s absence can cause a significant decrease in student outcomes.
And the negative effect goes beyond students, their colleagues, and the school community. More than 900,000 K-12 teachers per school year were absent from their classrooms in 2019.
This is 28% of teachers nation-wide who are chronically absent. This number is thought to be even higher with the rise in number of teachers resigning from their jobs owing to COVID 19.
Without consistency during classes and high-quality instruction, students are more likely to see low achievement levels, increasing their chances of not graduating. Moreover, when teachers are chronically absent, they compel colleagues to work harder and pick up the slack.
Factors that influence teachers’ decision to stay absent include timing, sick days, maternity leaves, personal days, professional development, colleagues’ attendance norms, and care for children/elderly parents.
Certain others attribute the problem to an unsupportive or lax school climate. When teachers don’t feel motivated to go to school, they decide to not show up.
Stress and illnesses that come from interacting with young children who are susceptible to illnesses – occupational hazards too are counted in.
COVID 19-related absences
And this year, owing to COVID 19, many teachers have opted out of returning to schools. Several states have seen surges in educators filing for retirement or taking leaves of absence.
Some teachers worry schools were not fully committed to ensuring social distancing and worried that the school did not have enough safety equipment for students and teachers.
Certain others have said that technical requirements and the pressure to record classes on video were some of the reasons for their absence.
Electronic health records can reduce teacher absences
Schools can turn to technology solutions like electronic health records to overcome these challenges to a great extent.
Electronic health records (EHR) in schools can help to monitor staff health and absenteeism. They can manage healthcare-related data and help to improve how care is given. EHRs also play a vital role in keeping children healthy and in schools. And it’s a given that when children in schools are healthy, teachers too remain healthy.
Another benefit is electronic health records can help school nurses analyze absence patterns that could hint towards possibilities of stress or other challenges that teachers face in school. Once the underlying reasons for absences are identified, school administrations can take the necessary steps to see what can be done to ensure teachers are in safer and happier environments in the school.
Times like now, where teachers have to deal with the trauma of COVID 19, pose more challenges than usual. In these situations, teachers have to help themselves and their students, while adjusting to the new learning models. Here, an electronic health record software system with a COVID 19 tracker like EduHealth, can improve their confidence by ensuring safer schools and adherence to safety best practices. Once teachers are confident to come back to schools, the learning process can get back to normal, helping children improve their academic achievement levels.
High teacher absenteeism has consequences for students. And chronically absent teachers can cause their classes to stagnate and compel colleagues to step in as substitutes. Electronic health record software like EduHealth can be an important investment in turning this around. EHRs keep our children and schools safe. And when schools are safe, teachers are safe and present.
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