Sick Students, Stay Home

Miramonte has maintained its reputation as one of the best high schools in California by pushing students to work their hardest and do their best. The same high standards that drive us to excel often also drive us  close to insanity with an overwhelming workload. High expectations and heavy workloads should not be criticized, but what happens when a student is forced to stay home sick from school? In this nearly epidemic flu season, sick students either come to school and infect others, or stay home and struggle for weeks afterwards with make-up homework and tests.

In recent preventative measures, the Contra Costa Health Department said students should not come to school unless fever-free for 24 hours without medication. Students fearful of acquiring hours of make-up homework and tests have been disregarding this advice often, despite clearly not being fit to spend all day out of bed.

“What I’ve seen is that a lot of students come for one period to make up a test and then go home,” said Associate Principal Jan Carlson.

It’s understandable that missing tests not only forces students to come painfully early on Wednesday morning make-up days, but also can put you on the wrong foot with teachers who do not always see your illness as a legitimate excuse for being absent on test days. Teachers do not always realize that while some students do go to great lengths to miss tests for which they did not study, many of us are sick and have no choice.  However, coming to school while sick with the flu puts every other student at risk for contracting the sickness as well. Generally you’ll also do far better on tests and other assignments if you wait until you’re well.

Even with custodians sanitizing door handles and the school buying case after case of Purell, the only way to keep Miramonte healthy is for sick students to keep their germs at home.
Students who are or have been recently sick should also stay away from school events such as dances. At the recent Homecoming dance, a gym full of sweating and grinding students made  for ideal conditions in which viruses could spread. Even administrators feared for their health as they breathalyzed  “700 students blowing in my face for an hour,” said Carlson.

District policy dictates that “a student with an excused absence from school shall be allowed to complete all assignments and tests missed during the absence” and that for absences under three days, “assignments must be made up by the student within two days of his/her return to school.” After a student misses two days there is no concrete policy teachers must abide by, but most allow a student as many days as they missed to make up work.

While the strenuous academic pace and workload at Miramonte cause making up absent work to be a momentous task, teachers are generally understanding and accommodating, providing you communicate with them. We students are in high school now and blaming teachers for our inability to complete make-up work is just an excuse for our irresponsibility.

Teachers have a large workload themselves and should not be expected to be prepared with a plan for getting students who have been sick back on track. Students need to be proactive and check in with teachers. If a student works with a teacher to figure out how they will get all their work done, there is a lower chance of miscommunications that result in missing assignments and dropped grades.

On the other hand, teachers also need to step up to the plate and allow students to communicate with them. This may mean simply replying to emails from students or making themselves more approachable, but it is their job to help their students. Many students also come to school sick because they feel they will have to teach themselves the lessons they miss, particularly in subjects such as math. Teachers should assist students who have missed crucial material if they ask for help.

Part of accommodating students also involves utilizing Blackboard. Putting assignments and class notes online allows students to get some of the work they have finished out of the way while they are home ill. Blackboard also drives students to be proactive and do what they need to do in order to catch up in class. Students cannot afford teachers’ resistance to technology. New equipment such as iPanels that allow teachers to easily upload their notes on to Blackboard strongly benefits students.

We are still early in the school year and the worst of the flu season has yet to come. Students and teachers alike must work together and adapt to sick day absences. It’s easy enough to say that school should just be easier, but the truth is that Miramonte is not about to jeopardize their academic standards to accommodate the unlucky students who get ill.

The Editorial Board voted  11-0 in favor