We have all sat next to that one kid who sounds like they’re coughing up their lungs and obviously shouldn’t be in class that day, and chances are, at some time or another, we have also been that kid who’s coughing up their lungs. However, even though we have been told that our health is the most important thing no matter what, students still feel obligated to come to school regardless.
According to Steinbrenner’s school nurse, Toni Muilenburg, about 10 students per day come into her office that seem truly ill. To be considered truly ill, one has to be coughing up phlegm, vomiting, sneezing thick green-yellow discharge from their nose, have diarrhea have a fever of 100 or more or have flu like symptoms. The Hillsborough County school year is 181 days long, and if approximately 10 students come to school that are truly ill, then over the course of one school year 1810 students will have come to school sick. And this isn’t even taking into account the students that are signed out by parents because they don’t feel well.
“If you feel ill while at school, please come down to the clinic for an evaluation, and if you are sick, stay home. Please keep your germs to yourself.
If you have general cold symptoms then you are fine to come to school, but if you have a fever, or your cough is non-stop and distracting the teacher and students, then you’re sick, and you need to stay home. A student who is sick shouldn’t even be coming back to school unless they have been sickness-free for 24 hours,” said Muillenburg.
But regardless of how I actually feel, I’ll still don my hoodie, pack a box of tissues, and come to school. But that’s not to say that I actually learn anything, as I’m usually too busy being sick to actually comprehend anything that is going on around me. The real reason I come to school, like many others, is because of a fear of falling behind in classes. Missing one day is bad enough, let alone a whole week, knowing a mountain of homework awaits.
Hillsborough County allows students to have five excused absences that have to do with illness. If a student has more than six however, they must have a note from the doctor explaining the circumstances. Even more specifically, seniors are only permitted to miss five days during their second semester, or else they risk having to take the final exams that they would otherwise be exempt from.
But what about when those seniors legitimately fall ill? It seems a bit unfair to students who have gone their entire high school careers, expecting to be exempt from their final exams come senior year, only to have that taken away from them for what is a legitimate medical issue.
Traveling athlete and Steinbrenner senior Ryann Martin knows this struggle all too well. As a member of the varsity team, she frequently finds herself having to miss school to go to out-of-town volleyball tournaments. With her second semester looming just around the corner, Martin is upset by the fact she’ll likely have to take her finals, regardless of being a good student in almost every other aspect.
“I believe that the five day cap on the amount of days seniors can miss during their second semester is wrong. Not only do many kids get sick, but many times that sickness lasts for more than the duration of one day. There are also family emergencies, unexpected appointments, multiple day sports tournaments, etc. Exempting exams is supposed to be a senior perk, not an unreachable goal,” said Martin.
With flu season in full-swing and germs swirling about the air this year, more and more students are finding themselves put in a situation where they have to choose between their education and their health, and they should never have to make that choice. But it’s much more than that– the ones that do choose to come to school usually accomplish little more than getting their peers sick. So if you’re sick, and thinking about coming to school, don’t. It’s as simple as that.