Take a Sick Day, Please

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Stephanie Racker It’s not uncommon to walk through the hallways of Latin and encounter students coughing, sneezing, or showing symptoms of varying illnesses. While one might think to themselves, “Why aren’t they at home getting rest?” Most of the time, students forgo this option for one key reason: to not fall behind. Whether there’s a test the next day or simply busy work, students at Latin are following a trend of prioritizing school work over physical and mental well being. Latin’s rigorous academic nature makes it difficult for students to miss days of school no matter what the reason. Teacher’s work to try and be accomodating when students need to make sick days; however, this often just entails sending an email explaining what was missed and a sentence suggesting the student check RomanNet for the assignment due the next day. Unfortunately, it becomes difficult for students to actually recuperate from their illness and feel rested and ready for school when on their sick day, they’re forced to frantically make up work. Furthermore, students often aren’t able to bring home their needed textbooks to complete assignments when they’re sick since they typically hadn’t intended on missing school. By students feeling pressured to not miss school in order to not have to fall behind on work and not miss critical information, they will stay in school when sick, endangering the health of their peers around them. Schools are already filled to the brim with germs and bacteria, meaning the more students that sacrifice their well being to avoid missing school means the more students that will get infected by the germs being brought to school by their sick peers. A vicious cycle is created, making it impossible for students to ever feel that their school is a healthy environment where they can learn and not worry about contracting an illness from the kid sitting next to them in the library. Quite frankly, there is no clear cut solution on how to handle sick days from both the perspective of students and teachers. On the one hand, it’s not fair to ask a student who is ill to work and further exhaust themselves trying to learn unfamiliar material and complete work they might not understand. On the other hand, it’s not fair for teachers to be expected to wait multiple days for a student to turn in one homework assignment, especially when considering the fact that homework often builds on previous assignments. However, the current environment perpetuated by Latin’s students and teachers needs to end for everyone’s sake. Sick days should be a chance for students to nurse themselves back to health, and teacher’s need to accommodate this by not always expecting an assignment to be turned in at the beginning of class on the day of the student’s return. That being said, students need to take the initiative to seek help from their teachers about learning the material that was covered. Students also mustn’t abuse sick days and only become “sick” when it means avoiding a test. It’s simply not healthy for students to feel too stressed about work that they can’t even take care of their own health out of fear of falling behind. A conversation must be started about how to combat this feeling for the sake of students and teachers, because sneezing in the salad bar because you refuse to go home and rest out of fear of missing school is not fun for anyone involved. ]]>