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Supporting members with long Covid

Northern Ireland principals and managers guide to supporting staff with long Covid.



This guidance aims to provide the latest information and advice for Principals and Managers who may have staff experiencing protracted ill health as a result of COVID-19 infection. This will ensure staff are supported effectively during their recovery.

This guidance was developed in conjunction with Birmingham Hospital Saturday Fund (BHSF) Occupational Health provider, Workplace Health Leadership Group N.I. and the latest available published medical advice. This will be reviewed and updated regularly as required. See Appendix A for more information on the Workplace Health Leadership Group N.I. (WHLG N.I.).

Key phases and definitions

  1. Acute COVID: Signs and symptoms of COVID-19 for up to 4 weeks.
  2. Ongoing symptomatic COVID-19: Signs and symptoms of COVID-19 from 4 -12 weeks.
  3. Post-COVID-19 syndrome also known as Long COVID: Signs and symptoms of COVID-19 that develop during or after an infection consistent with COVID -19, continue for more than 12 weeks and are not explained by an alternative diagnosis. WHLG N.I. May 21

“Usually presents with clusters of symptoms, often overlapping, which can fluctuate and change over time and can affect any system in the body”. NICE on Long COVID October 20

Long COVID and absence from work

For some staff the effects of Long COVID can be long-term and debilitating, with a resultant impact on absence from work.

Evidencing of Long COVID

Clarity on Long COVID diagnosis is important and informs the best steps for staff support. Due to the long-term nature of absence caused by Long COVID, evidence will be normally presented in the form of a Certificate of Fitness for Work “Fit Note”. It is reasonable and expected that school leaders / managers should request and be furnished with such evidence or further information if the “Fit Note” is unclear. If there is uncertainty which cannot be resolved via the G.P., an alternative medical opinion can be obtained via the Occupational Health service.

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