The news site of Glenbrook South High School.

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The news site of Glenbrook South High School.

The Oracle

The news site of Glenbrook South High School.

The Oracle

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Misplaced priorities: students must start putting health first

We’ve all sat in class with someone who is obviously sick. It’s the wet, hacking cough that disrupts the teacher’s lecture every few sentences, the persistent sniffle of a student denying the need for a tissue, the kid in the back of the room resting his throbbing head on the table. It’s clear that they’re feeling under the weather, so why are they at school?

When you’re sick, you belong in bed, not at your desk.

That is why I choose to stay home, and when I do, my goal is to sleep, not to feel pressured to keep up with my reading assignment of Great Expectations. If I’m going to have to spend my sick day doing homework and teaching myself what I’m missing in class that day so I don’t get too behind, it seems like it’d just be easier to struggle through school.

However, going to school while sick isn’t productive. When I have a cold, I know that all I’m thinking about in class is how long I can go without having to get up and blow my nose in front of the class. It’s pretty hard to focus when all you can think about is how awful you feel.

Instead of attempting to keep the same pace while you’re sick, the most efficient way to avoid getting too off-track in school is taking it easy for a few days at home and getting a good night’s sleep. You might get a little behind on work, but in the end, you’ll probably miss fewer days of school by giving your body the rest it needs to heal itself.

I know, however, that there are plenty of sick students at school each day who decide to ignore their sickness and tough it out. The promise of a heightened workload from a day missed can be enough to drag them to class, tissues and cough drops in hand.

“The amount of work assigned is a lot,” sophomore Rachel Chmielinski said. “I recently had a friend tell me that she couldn’t go to class because she had too much homework. While that seems insane, it’s true.”

Homework is a necessary evil, and it’s a separate problem if you struggle to finish it on time when you are healthy. But if it feels hopeless to try to get back on track after a few missed days, teachers need to understand that staying home sick isn’t a vacation day and doesn’t mean students will get all their work done even if they have more time. In the grand scheme of things, what’s an extension on a test makeup or homework assignment anyway?

There’s no doubt that school can be demanding, but the pressure to perform top-notch all the time can make students feel like they can’t back off, even in the case of an illness. After all, when I look on HomeLogic, my eyes are drawn immediately to the grades I screwed up, not everything I did right.

These expectations of perfection are completely unrealistic. But if perfection is what we strive to achieve, toughing it out when we’re sick is counterintuitive. Illness is often our body’s way of telling us that we need to slow down, and it is often necessary to pause life for a few days to recuperate.

I know this is easier said than done. With about 15 absences this year alone, I stay home when I’m feeling under the weather because it’s not a big deal for me to miss school. For those already drowning in homework, however, an added load of makeup work can be what does them in.

While making up the work you missed might be a problem for you alone, coming to school affects everyone around you. By coming to school sick, you risk spreading your sickness. If you feel you can’t afford to miss a couple days, what makes you think it’ll be so much easier for someone else?

Missing school might be a hassle, but the answer isn’t to avoid staying home at all costs. While a tough schedule and the pressure to succeed might make staying home to rest feel impossible, perspective is necessary because we all get sick. Save yourself the strain and save everyone else the chance of catching your sickness: cough your lungs out at home, not on the back of my head in class.

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