Too Sick for School? Your Workload Says No.

On an early September morning, senior Garnet Phinney returned to school after just one day absent from an illness that sent her boyfriend to the doctor and step sister to the ER. The virus didn’t hit Phinney as hard as it did the others, but nonetheless, a full day of school wasn’t what was needed for optimal recovery.

Despite feeling fatigued, lightheaded, and generally in pain, Phinney decided the best course of action was to push through her illness and attend school because, in her own words, “If you stay home and rest, you will get behind in school, and inevitably fail your classes.” She’s not the only one who feels this way. Senior Sarah Oide avoids missing school at any cost, stating, “I think that I go to school when I’m sick because I’m afraid of missing assignments or important information.” Fear seems to be the main factor impacting students’ decision to go to school while sick.

District, school, and individual teacher policies allow students extra time to make up work assigned during excused absences. Acknowledging this, Phinney says that, “Even though you can make up work after you have recovered, there is new work to do and there is simply not the time.” The days after a student returns to school after an absence (or worse, multiple absences) won’t be easy.

At what point is a student too sick for school? What’s the limit? Answers vary from student to student, of course, but Garnet Phinney says that she “would have to have a high fever, bad nausea, or just generally feel incapable of moving around or concentrating,” to decide it’s best for her to stay home. She added that, “It depends on the amount of work I have.” A similar sentiment was expressed by senior Benjamin Kimmel: “It depends on what’s happening that day at school and if it’s worth missing.” Another student, Sarah Oide, says “I think I mainly stay home if I’m physically injured or can’t walk.”

A person can be contagious with the common cold for 10-14 days, and reach peak contagiousness around day 3 or 4 ( At this point, they’re normally back at school. Spreading a viral infections is especially a concern at a school like Da Vinci. Here, students can’t reasonably avoid working together to prevent spreading germs.

Most students know to cough in their elbows and avoid sharing food and drinks with others, but that’s not always enough. In an effort to heal as fast as possible, Oide relies heavily on Dayquil. “I really take a lot of dayquil, probably an average of 2-3 pills on really bad days,” she says. Other students like Phinney focus on not sneezing on things. She states, “I be careful not to put my germs places and I drink tea.”

It’s not reasonable to excuse a student from a week’s worth of work. More detailed Echo agendas may be part of the solution to the problem of students being too stressed to get rest.

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