Schools and Corona: More and more teachers are permanently ill – politics

School administrations in Germany are observing more and more cases of permanently ill teachers in their colleges. In a survey published on Monday by the opinion research institute Forsa, half of the headmasters surveyed stated that the number of long-term absences due to mental and physical illnesses had increased. Two years earlier it was 36 and 37 percent respectively. A total of 1,300 school administrators were interviewed for the survey in September and October 2021.

The study was commissioned by the Education and Training Association (VBE), which, like other teacher organizations, has recently had to listen to a lot of criticism due to its critical attitude towards face-to-face teaching during the pandemic. The survey now offers the association the opportunity to draw attention to the additional burden on schools caused by the pandemic, which is exacerbating existing problems such as the shortage of teachers in particular.

“The house of cards that we call the German school system is beginning to collapse,” said VBE chairman Udo Beckmann when the survey was presented. The observations of the school administrations would soon be reflected in statistics, for example in the number of teachers who are retiring early.

The pandemic has significantly increased the demands on the colleges, the school management agrees. 97 percent answered the corresponding question with yes. But according to the survey, the workload is not increasing due to Corona alone. The number of school administrators who see everyday school life made more difficult by newer requirements such as inclusion or integration also increased between 2019 and 2021, from 56 to 63 percent. The situation in primary schools is perceived as particularly stressful, where the corresponding value was 70 percent. “The ongoing overload even before Corona and the enormous additional workload in the pandemic are making teachers increasingly ill,” said Beckmann.

According to the survey, almost a third of school administrations would like fewer hours for teachers. That is significantly more than in 2019, when it was 19 percent. Almost a quarter would like to have more teachers available, and there is also a significant increase here. On the other hand, there is not a lack of money, only five percent would like more financial resources – just like two years before.

Remarkable: A certain helplessness has apparently spread among a significant number of the headmasters surveyed. When asked what they would like to contribute to the health of the college, a quarter answered: “don’t know” – more than twice as many as in 2019. At Hauptschule, Realschule and comprehensive schools it was even 30 percent. From Udo Beckmann’s point of view, this could only mean one thing: the school administrations concerned “have come to terms with the hope that something could change. They are resigned. They have the feeling that politics is leaving them alone with their worries and needs.”

In autumn 2021, after a year and a half of the pandemic, another interpretation is also conceivable: that Corona has created a feeling of insecurity among the school management that cannot be completely dispelled by all conceivable safety precautions – masks, tests, air filters.

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