Teachers’ Responses to Sick Students Unacceptable

Every student has been there. Your backpack is packed, and your assignments are completed for the next day. But then, the next morning, you hear your alarm go off and realize you feel too sick to get out of bed. As you stay in your room all day long, you obsessively check and refresh your Canvas page, just hoping you won’t see another assignment that you are missing pop up. But yet, your dashboard continues to fill up, and instead of focusing on getting over your sickness, you worry about whether or not you will be able to catch up on your work when you return to school.

This is a scenario that is way too common among Campolindo students, especially during the winter cold season. Oftentimes, it seems as though 1 sick day can set a student back a lot in terms of their schoolwork, making it nearly impossible to fully catch up. While missing some material as a result of staying home is inevitable, teachers need to do a better job at providing resources for students who are sick, and be willing to help them out.

To start off, teachers should be more understanding of the fact that students have very little control over getting sick, and that staying home with an illness is certainly not a choice. Too often, when students ask teachers about the things they missed, they respond with an unhelpful comment, like “Well where were you?” or “If you were here, you wouldn’t have missed it.” This kind of attitude from teachers is definitely not beneficial for students who have missed school, and places blame where it shouldn’t be. After all, nobody chooses to be sick, so nobody should feel bad about having to miss a day or 2 to rest.

“A lot of teachers are very unforgiving when people are sick, especially PE teachers. 1 time I asked if I could be excused from running for a day because I was recovering from a cold and my teacher was very rude about it and didn’t excuse me,” noted freshman Alexis Awad.

Students are provided with a 55 minute academy period twice a week that is dedicated to working on homework, making up tests and meeting with teachers. This period is perfect for sick students looking to catch up on work that they may have missed, but the infrequency of it makes it difficult for students to truly catch up on all of their necessary work. With the heavy course load many Campolindo students take, only two periods of this helpful resource each week isn’t enough to satisfy the immense amount of work students receive. While this isn’t teachers’ fault, we think it is important for teachers to recognize that we can’t control being tagged for other academies. Oftentimes, the case is not that a student is prioritizing one class over the other, but rather that they were simply tagged first for another class. It is crucial to students’ learning that they are not put at blame for problems that are out of their control.

“I think [we should have] an academy at least 3 days a week because I always find myself with so much absent work to make up. I feel like I need more academy time to finish all of my absent work and tests,” explained Awad.

Additionally, it can be frustrating for a student when they receive no credit for the assignments or activities they missed in class, rather than being presented with an alternate way to make it up. Oftentimes, teachers fail to understand that it’s not realistic for students to submit a piece of paper or complete a test at home, so some assignments are going to have to be turned in late. If a student is willing to make up these assignments, they should be given a chance to complete them for a portion of credit if not full credit. Giving a student a 0 the day they are gone, and not being willing to negotiate any other options, provides an unfair punishment to the student.

Overall, teachers need to be more understanding of students who have to miss school because of sickness, and be willing to provide the support needed. Teachers should utilize resources like academies in order to better communicate with students, and make sure they are given the 1-on-1 time they need. Nobody enjoys being sick, but when we are ill, students appreciate their teachers maintaining a positive attitude, and being there to help us catch up.