Getting sick shouldn’t spread to your grades

Nick Walfrid, writer and photographer

Why is it that when you miss even one day of school, your grades suffer from the amount of busy work you miss? Why is it that if you are coughing, sneezing, and vomiting, you lose more from staying at home and getting better than attending school and spreading your illness to others? Some might say that it’s possible to avoid getting sick, but the harsh reality is that every student will suffer from a viral illness at some point during the school year.

The way people approach this issue is what matters. Many teachers assign large amounts of homework on top of existing in-class work, and this work can often ‘snowball’ and create a gigantic glut of stress for students. Other, more lenient teachers will make students do only paramount assignments when they get back.

I believe that if a student is absent due to illness or another legitimate reason, they should be given no more than one formative assignment from each class to do. Summative assignments need to be completed for obvious reasons, but I think that if a teacher selected the most critical formative assignment from the relevant unit for a student to do, instead of making them do all of the assignments, it would lessen stress on both the recovering student and the teacher.

However, regardless of how strict or lenient a teacher may be, they oftentimes neglect to respond to emails from sick students until two or three days after they have been sent and forget to update teaching websites such as Schoology and Moodle so that students can work on homework from home while attempting to recover.

Students who stay home and heal without toiling over assignments will return to school facing a gigantic mound of missing work. Individuals may spend weeks trying to turn in work from when they were sick, and in some cases, students may even need to continue working on missing work after their test for that unit. This will cause students to be very stressed, often causing their illness to relapse.

Students who stay home and attempt to stick with their peers in terms of assignments and projects will often find that their assignments are not adequately explained online and sometimes not online altogether. Additionally, the stress of attempting to do so many assignments while recovering can be extremely exhausting for recovering students. Have you ever tried to do several assignments while coping with severe viral symptoms?

Students who refuse to stay home from school will be miserable as they try to stick with their class agendas and tolerate their illness. They are also likely to spread their illness to other students and teachers by being present, further magnifying the problem.

Even more importantly, people who view online gradebooks will often see the missing assignments of students. Whether that student was gone for religious reasons, had to go on a vacation with their family or was at home suffering from an illness, it does not matter to the online database, which only logs their assignment as ‘missing’ without giving it any context. This looks bad to others who view that student’s grades, even if the student had a perfectly legitimate reason for not doing their assignment. Online gradebooks should display why an assignment was missing, just as they can often display a student’s attendance record.

These issues are crucial material that school districts need to adress. I believe that if they did that, not only would the GPA of an average student rise, but teachers would be less stressed and the focus in classrooms would be on learning, instead of busy work. Because if you get sick, it shouldn’t spread to your grades.