Workload compels students to disregard health

illustration by Riley Gunderson

illustration by Riley Gunderson

Oracle Editorial Board

Throughout the years of elementary school and middle school, many students earn a reputation for notoriously faking sick. Whether it be heating a thermometer under a warm faucet, drawing red polka dots across their skin or faking symptoms the night before, preteen kids across the country have mastered this art.

In the transition from middle school to high school, this phenomenon has crumbled in the environment created by South’s intense academic rigor. The Oracle Editorial Board has noticed an increase in students refraining from an absence when they are sick on a school day.

According to a non-scientific survey conducted by the Oracle, of 257 students, 86 percent say that they have come to school before despite feeling ill. Sophomore Abby Neptun explains that she rarely stays home from school when she is sick for fear of missing her school work or extracurricular activities.

“Every time I have a head cold, or if I’m just not feeling well at all, I still come to school,” Neptun said. “If I’m sick, nine times out of ten I’m still at school.”

While at times it may seem easier to simply come to school, the Editorial Board urges students to take into account their own personal well being. According to Principal Dr. Lauren Fagel, in the long run, coming to school sick can lead to missing more school, as students are more likely to overwork themselves.

“My advice would be to stay home and listen to your body,” Fagel said. “When your body is telling you something, [and] when you push yourself, you [will] just get sicker, and so now you’re just going to take longer to get better.”

Another unforeseen issue with students coming to school when ill is that they run the risk of getting those around them sick, according to John Blix, consumer education teacher. Senior Austin Sulejmani acknowledges this issue and believes one way that students can avoid this risk is by staying home to sleep or considering coming for only two blocks if it is necessary.

However, if a student does decide to come to school when they are not feeling well, they should have a conversation with their teacher beforehand, according to Jeffrey Rylander, Science Department instructional supervisor and AP Physics teacher, who believes an easy way to relieve the stress that may come with missing class is avoiding procrastination.

“I think it’s also good for all of us to reflect, ‘Am I doing what I can ahead of time? Or am I procrastinating on that big assignment so that I’m up ‘til 2:30?’” Rylander said. “Nobody functions well on two hours of sleep.”

The Oracle Editorial Board also believes completing assignments ahead of time can help minimize the effects of unforeseen illnesses and encourages students to keep this in mind when they begin to feel early symptoms.

The other end of this prevalent issue involves the teachers and their absence policies. According to Rylander, South’s policy asks that students are given two days to make up an assignment for every day they are absent. According to Rylander, while this policy has merit, he believes students and teachers must have a conversation about the student’s ongoing illness in order to reach a successful outcome.

“We want you to try and [have assignments] made up in a couple of days [because] otherwise it drags on and on,” Rylander said. “But, that being said, [every student] knows the craziness of [their] schedule and if we need to talk through that and how to adjust that, I think there needs to be some flexibility from a teacher.”

While the Oracle Editorial Board feels the two-day makeup policy can prevent the accumulation of a heavy workload, teachers should be considerate toward the circumstances surrounding a student’s health that may impair their ability to complete work in a two-day time frame.

For example, a student contagious with mononucleosis, known to fatigue those infected, should prioritize a prescription to rest over completing missed homework. We encourage teachers to keep an open mind, whether it be a sinus infection or more severe illness, when students express concern with the makeup policy.

Fagel echoed a similar sentiment to Rylander regarding the value of teachers being flexible when it comes to student health issues. Fagel, similar to the Oracle Editorial Board, believes that digital resources such as Google Classroom, a homework document or a detailed day-by-day syllabus is a successful tool in giving students the ability to get a head start on assignments they’ve missed and be informed of the notes or activities from class.

“With Google Classroom, [keeping absent students updated] is much easier,” Fagel said. “Sometimes you do feel better [if you are home sick] in the afternoon or evening, so you can try and not be so far behind when you get back [to school].”

The Oracle Editorial Board encourages teachers to include all homework assignments on a digital agenda so students can have the opportunity to keep up with their course work regardless of if they were in class.

As second quarter is known to be turbulent between ongoing illnesses and finals, it is probable that the tendency of this phenomenon will only increase into the winter. For both students and teachers, the Oracle Editorial Board encourages you to keep these perspectives in mind when making a decision about staying home from school or implementing a missed-work policy.