The True Cost of Student and Teacher Sick Days

At G.W. Savage, we are big advocates of decontamination and disinfection. In places where people live, learn and work in close proximity, diseases spread easily—and this is especially true in schools. Bacteria and viruses can transfer alarmingly fast when hundreds of people are in close contact, and that leads to absences by both students and teachers.

Data gathered by the Office for Civil Rights in the U.S. Department of Education indicates that in the U.S., 36% of teachers are absent more than 10 days in a school year. Researchers at Duke University found that being taught by a substitute teacher for 10 or more days a year has a larger negative effect on a child’s math score than changing schools in the middle of the year.

The Monetary Cost of Absences

Of course, students and teachers may be absent from school for reasons unrelated to illness, but sick days are a major factor in taking time away from school. Absences have a significant financial impact on the school:

  • Salaries and benefits for teachers are the biggest category of expenditure for schools.
  • This number adds up even more when schools need to pay stipends for substitute teachers and associated administrative costs.
  • Teacher absence can be tied to student performance. When school-wide performance suffers, state and other funding can be reduced.
  • A researcher at the University of Washington calculated what school districts would save yearly on substitute pay if teachers took leave time at the same rate as other professionals (3 days during a 180-day year). The conclusion was a savings of $43 per student, or one-half a percent of total school budgets.
  • On the parents’ side, 2 out of 5 American workers do not get paid sick leave in the private sector, meaning that more parents are sending their children to school sick since they are unable to take time off to care for them.

The Educational Cost of Absences

Absences by both students and teachers negatively affect student achievement. Again, it’s more detrimental to a child’s math score to have a substitute teacher for 10 or more days than it would be to change schools in the middle of the year. Substitute teachers not only cost the school money, they also cause a disruption to learning simply by being unfamiliar with the students, classroom routine, and classroom management.

Reducing Illness in Schools

One way to help reduce absences due to illness is by making sure the school is decontaminated and disinfected regularly. At G.W. Savage, we recommend quarterly rounds of the cleaning agent ASA-1000, which is effective at controlling bacteria, viruses and mold for up to 90 days. This is especially important for locker rooms and gymnasiums where bacteria and mold can grow and multiply more easily.

The new school year is fast approaching. Take steps today to help protect the health of students and staff for the upcoming year. Talk to G.W. Savage today about decontamination services.