By T’KEYAH JONES
In the past few weeks, students have become aware of just how bad this flu season has been and continues to be. Not only is the issue all over the news, but a high volume of students are getting sick. The last thing anyone wants to face is having to fight off sickness while trying to balance college life. No one has time to miss classes and certainly no one wants to be sick, especially with the flu.
A college campus is an easy place for germs to spread. Here at UMW there are approximately 4,000 students, so coming into contact with a sick person is inevitable. You spend your day around campus, going to different classes, grabbing food, hanging with your friends, going to your residence hall and more. Everywhere you go, you are surrounded by people, often in close proximity to them. Some places can be very congested at times and in places highly saturated with people, there is an even higher chance that you will catch the flu.
This flu season has affected most of the country and has been called the worst in more than a decade by multiple news reports. This current flu season has lasted over 11 weeks, with the average time for a flu season being 16 or even 20 weeks. According to TIME magazine, the typical time for the flu season to begin is late December and it peaks around February; this year it started earlier and peaked earlier as well.
As a college student, with news of how intense this flu season is, it might not be a good idea to choose articles on how quickly germs spread on college campuses as late-night reading. Or maybe it is, because now I am even more aware of every cough, sneeze and sniffle around me, which I am pretty sure has more to do with the cold weather than the flu. Regardless the cause, use hand sanitizer, wash your hands, these are two of the simplest ways you can avoid getting sick, aside from getting a flu shot, but even then, you could still get sick. It is better to be aware of ways to avoid catching the virus than to wait until it’s too late and you have the flu.
Being sick is an obvious inconvenience, especially while trying to balance school and work. People want to get their school work done, they want to do the job that they are here to do and missing out because you have caught the flu, can hinder your schedule immensely and no one has time for that. If you miss one day of class, it may seem like it will put you way behind in your classes.This is why students may decide to go to class while ill.
If you do feel like you might be coming down with the flu, stay home. This is your responsibility in preventing others from getting sick. Not only do other students want to avoid whatever may be affecting you, but professors as well. I’ve had a professor insist if you feel bad, stay home. There are some professors that would prefer for students to stay home and deal with the flu rather than risk the spread of it to their peers. Not only are the professors who are understanding prevent other students from getting sick, but they lessen the stress of the student who is sick. Being sick is bad enough but being sick and having to worry that you’ll end up failing a class because of missed attendance make matters worse.
There are also professors who have such strict attendance policies that it seems nearly impossible to miss class even because of health reasons. If you catch the flu, you are likely to miss a week or two of classes and that could be the breaking point. Your attendance grade goes down and most professors don’t allow make up work, which leaves you out of luck in some cases. Students shouldn’t feel pressure to further risk their health and the health of others just to pass a class.
There are also students who pride themselves on maintaining a good grade point average to an unhealthy extreme. They may feel pressure to continue going to class while sick and will push themselves to wit’s end just so that they can continue to maintain their grades. Your health is important. Stress does not mix well with being sick. It is better to stay home and take care of yourself rather than over exert yourself and drain yourself mentally and physically.
In classes here on campus, we are in close quarters with one another. Coming to class with the flu could lead to a chain reaction of your peers falling ill to the influenza virus themselves. Your health should come first and students should be exempt from penalties for missing class because of the flu especially with how intense this particular flu season is. If you have the flu or think you may have it, it is best not to risk the health of other students and faculty. If you feel bad, just stay home or go to a doctor.