Students are sick of sick days

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Students are sick of sick days

This year, sickness has hit North Penn with a force like never before.

This year, sickness has hit North Penn with a force like never before.

Olivia Hannigan

This year, sickness has hit North Penn with a force like never before.

Olivia Hannigan

Olivia Hannigan

This year, sickness has hit North Penn with a force like never before.

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Hearing people sneeze and cough all day can terrify almost everyone. Especially in a packed school like North Penn, the virus can spread like something out of an apocalypse movie. The fear of catching whatever “bug” is flying around haunts everyone, making them a little more paranoid about touching the railing on the stairs or inching away from someone who looks like they just crawled out of their own grave. Almost everyone thinks, at one point, “why don’t they stay at home?”

The big problem is, though, they can’t. Well they can, but not really. 

The dilemma that teachers and students alike face – is it really worth taking off? For a few, they’d say that sure, why wouldn’t they take the day off. It’s not worth it if they’re going to be miserable all day. Almost everyone else finds themselves stressing over the workload they they’d have to make up. 

Missing a day in elementary school or even middle school was never a problem. A lot of us actually aimed to take off on days that we had gym or library so we didn’t have much work to make up. Even the workload wasn’t much unless you took off on a particularly busy week. In high school, however, you can’t even take off on days you have gym because you have to make those up as well.  

“When I miss school because I’m sick, I feel guilty,” North Penn Sophomore Julia Fredericks admits. “I’m missing out on a lot.” 

Students like Fredericks are already swamped with homework and actual work, to the point where every minute of 8B and Knight Time is spent catching up on the work they have for that day, let alone having time to make it all up during a sick day. 

At that point, it becomes a matter of importance, not points. Students find themselves balancing their options, thinking that some points are more important than others. Using scenarios like “well, I have this fifty point test to make up or I can do all this homework that’s equal to twenty points.” They eventually begin settling for the minimum, accepting a loss in one area where there’s a win for another. 

“One of the reasons I see kids getting sick is actually because they’re stressed out in the first place. There’s a direct connection between stress and physical health,” says Mr. Steven Young, a health teacher at North Penn High School. “Their stress levels continue to be heightened, the big reason behind that is because they don’t want to fall behind in schoolwork.” 

This creates a cycle of sickness and stress, looping from the student getting sick, being stressed about getting sick and missing school, and getting more sick because of that stress. That cycle can only be broken with time, time spent sleeping and focusing on bettering their health. That time can only be gained with a missed day or two in school, which is why not many people choose to take that time. And so the cycle continues, leaving the students at a complete loss for what to do.  

Chromebooks have helped improve this problem a lot. Whenever students miss a day of school, they’re always told to “check Google Classroom”, but that might not always be enough. Certain subjects, like Math or Science, have difficult components and lessons that Youtube videos might not cover completely. As technologically-absorbed as we are, we do learn from other people more than we do a simple video. 

While there may never be one simple solution, one end-all for reducing students’ stress when it comes to missing days of school, but we can try to make people more aware of it. If someone you know is out of class for a while, try to help them catch up or at the very least tell them what they missed, especially if you sit near them. It sounds awkward but it can really help someone out- it can even help you review material that you might need to memorize for later!