Teachers and students are worried sick over in-school illness



A survey of 57 students from Feb. 10 to Feb. 24, 2020.

Lillian Chen

It’s an iconic scene from the hit 1986 movie, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off:” a teacher taking attendance monotonously repeats “Bueller” to no avail, for the aforementioned high school student is faking sick and playing hooky for the day. 

Flash forward to the present, where rather than feigning illness to stay home, students are playing well and coming to school despite a cold. 

Many students attend school rather than resting at home in order to stay on top of their schoolwork and extracurriculars. Typically, any CHS classroom during the dreary winter months is filled with a chorus of coughs and sniffles.

“It’s usually kind of tough to make up work because all that work that you missed from the day plus any additional work piling on,” said senior Heather Griffin of Wall. “It definitely takes several days to catch up on anything.”

“Students here are … so afraid of missing school because of the block scheduling that missing one day feels like it’s missing two days,” said biology teacher Leah Morgan. “There’s a lot to make up, everybody moves fast, and we’re honors classes.”

Sick students pose a health risk to their peers in schools around the nation. Especially in smaller schools like CHS, germs spread rapidly, and soon enough, everyone shares the same cold or flu. 

“I think germs spread very, very easily in a school … we have a lot of video equipment, we have a lot of computer equipment, we don’t have a lot of sinks in our classrooms and there’s not a lot of time between classes for kids to wash their hands,” said school nurse Dorothy Condon. “Kids notoriously don’t cover their mouth properly when they cough and sneeze… and they just inhale [germs] or get them on their hands and then touch their eyes, touch their mouth, eat and become infected.”

“Since we’re so small and since we’re constantly in contact with each other, directly and indirectly, I think we all just share germs,” said junior Jacynth Apora of Manalapan. “We’re all just in this big vacuum of sickness, which isn’t anyone’s fault, it’s just the nature of the school.”

Faculty at CHS make attempts to quell the tidal wave of illnesses when they can. Graphic arts teacher Amanda FitzPatrick and fitness teacher Virginia Clevenger implore their students to wash their hands frequently. Other teachers, like English teacher Jaime Vander Velde, wipe down desks after classes.

“Sleep, hydration, washing your hands, eating healthy foods, taking a vitamin and just decreasing the stress load in your life is the best prevention,” Condon noted.

The simplest way to break this cycle of germs is, quite plainly, watching out for your well-being and removing yourself from the equation in times of poor health. 

“It’s better to take care of yourself and stay home when you’re sick because you don’t want to get everybody else sick,” advised Morgan. “The longer you push yourself, the harder it is to recover.”