Contagious: Students debate going to class sick



Ideally, sick children should not be in school until they are healthy, but it makes sense that parents sometimes must send their sick children to school because of the education system’s inability to accommodate absences. This difficult choice is one that parents should not have to make, but are often forced to within the confines of our current system.

There is little to no concern from our country’s institutions regarding the well-being of workers and students. We live in a culture that demands constant work, even if this is detrimental to people’s health. The same applies for students, who will surely miss out on critically important education and fall behind even from a two or three-day absence.

If a student misses a week of school with the flu, for example, they run a serious risk of failing many of their classes. Teachers often don’t have the ability to provide adequate one-on-one time to help these students catch up because they too are overworked and undervalued. Students often bear the brunt of systemic issues plaguing America’s education system, which is why parents often have to make the unfair decision to send their unhealthy children to school.

With all of this being said, numerous precautions should be taken if these children are sent to school. They should wear a well-fitting mask and wash their hands frequently, and of course make sure to drink plenty of fluids and eat nutritious foods. Parents should not send their children if they have a fever, nausea, diarrhea or other immediate symptoms.

Our education system needs to improve so children can afford a few absences without the risk of falling behind. In the meantime, however, parents are forced to choose between the health of their children and crucial education — and sometimes, they may just want to choose the former.



There are few things more upsetting than being stuck in a class while the guy behind you coughs down your neck. No one enjoys being sick — or coughed on. From the immunocompromised to the perfectly healthy, students coming to school sick affects everyone. 

It has never been uncommon for students to come to school with runny noses and quaking coughs, but it has been sparking quite the debate since the COVID-19 pandemic. There are many concerned about the rapid spread of illness and others just wishing for things to go back to normal. “Normal” in this context refers to before the pandemic when masks weren’t as common and supposedly no one batted an eye at a cold.

Regardless, students should not be going to class while sick. Whether they are elementary age, attending high school or on a college campus, contagious illnesses should keep kids out of the classroom. 

One obvious reason is that in these high-touch, close-quartered environments, illnesses can spread like wildfire. Even if the affected student is able to function and make it through the day, their peers might not be as fortunate and have family who are, or themselves be, immunocompromised. This is true for students of all ages.

Of course, face masks are a common solution to the problem, especially if the student must attend class so as to not miss any important information or something unskippable, but this isn’t always ideal for young children who don’t have the patience to keep one on. 

It’s also important to note that rest is imperative to recovering from any illness. Sleep helps boost our immune systems. If students have to trudge through their normal schedule while their body calls for sleep, they are actively lengthening their recovery time. 

Additionally, not every illness requires a student to be out of school for weeks but only during the most contagious stages of their illness. In light of allergy season fast approaching, I would like to note that not every small ailment requires a leave of absence, but I think it’s especially important that if students are feeling under the weather, they stay home, for their sake and the safety of others.


Featured photo courtesy of RDNE Stock Project, Pexels