New York City teachers are calling out sick more frequently in the wake of the pandemic, following a national trend of increased educator absences as COVID-19 and other illnesses continue to swirl, city data shows.

During the six years prior to the pandemic, about 14% of teachers each school year used more than their 10 allotted sick days on average. That percentage sank to historic lows during the two school years in which classes were fully or partially remote, according to city numbers.

But when full-time, in-person classes resumed in the 2021-2022 school year, the number of teachers using 11 or more sick days jumped to 16% and continued climbing to nearly 19% last school year, according to the most recent Mayor’s Management Report.

Teachers along with union and Education Department officials attribute the rise in teacher absences to the ongoing impact of COVID-19 and other illnesses — including the surge of the highly contagious omicron variant in winter 2021 and the “tripledemic” of COVID-19, flu, and RSV cases last winter.

“Since the onset of the COVID pandemic, everyone, including teachers, have been encouraged to take the time that they need to recover when sick and stop the spread of communicable diseases,” said Education Department spokesperson Chyann Tull. “This can lead to an increase in the rates at which teachers are absent.”

Elevated teacher absences can have a “tremendous effect” on school operations, said Roony Vizcaino, the principal of the Urban Assembly School for Global Commerce in Harlem, which has seen an increase in teacher absences over the past two school years.

Read the full article about teacher absenteeism by Michael Elsen-Rooney at Chalkbeat.