Sickness plagues students, but not their attendance

Olivia DiNapoli, Staff Writer

It’s 7 a.m. on a weekday, and you’re beginning to feel sick. Your choice is seemingly simple: either miss a day of school to recover or try your best to bear the illness and journey to Urban. But perhaps the choice is not as easy as you had thought. You have a quiz, an in-class essay, a lab, or a crucial deadline that requires work time with teachers. Missing a day of school in order to nurse your sickness suddenly seems catastrophic in relation to your workload.

Photo by Flickr user emil_kabanov.
Photo by Flickr user emil_kabanov.

Although the recognized temperature of a fever varies from 99.5 degrees Fahrenheit and 100.9 degrees Fahrenheit, Urban student Sarah Weihl’s (’17) validation of sickness is slightly more extreme. According to Weihl, what might be considered a mild illness is not worth losing a day of school over. “If it’s throwing up and above one-hundred-and-one,” however, “I guess I’m not going to school,” said Weihl.

Many Urban students prioritize their workload over their illness, deciding whether what is being discussed in class on a particular day can be missed or if they must battle their illness in the classroom to catch the newest material. “I have to look at the weeksheet, and [think] ‘… this is what we’re doing, I guess I can miss that and catch up … after,’” said Weihl.
Mariel Solomon (‘17), has a similar point of view. “I threw up the night before midterms, but I came to school because I didn’t want to miss my midterm.”

Urban School math teacher Richard Lautze echoes this sentiment, stating, “If they’re absent I expect them to be able to know what we’re talking about in class. If we covered a topic, then I expect that they would go over that with someone so that they understood what we did.” Although the expectation for missing class may vary between subjects and between teachers, this extra workload can still be overwhelming.

“If you miss a whole lab, then it’s so hard to do the whole lab [report]. Or if you miss a Socratic discussion —- you just can’t miss that. Teachers are understanding, but there’s only so much work that you can make up,” commented Solomon on the overwhelming amount of work that missing a mere day of school can produce.

A solution to the anxiety surrounding missing school seems viable to Lautze though, and comes from an understanding between teachers and students. “I think in one place I would like us… to make students be able to miss appropriately. I would like students to be able to miss class to go to a sporting event, or miss class to go on an outdoor trip, and somehow be accommodated by the teacher so they don’t have stress about going,” said Lautze.

“I think it would be great if teachers and students could work together on how to manage the workload,” said Lautze, in order to ease student anxiety over missing school to prioritize health. Lautze suggests students and teachers must collaborate to gauge an appropriate amount of work to be made up, and to manage deadlines to meet the needs of the recovering student. This could ultimately remove guilt from self-care and prevent compromising academic success for wellbeing.