Ruff Draft

The influenza extravaganza

English+teacher%2C+Christy+Nieves%2C+teaches+while+a+student+blows+her+nose+during+class.
English teacher, Christy Nieves, teaches while a student blows her nose during class.

English teacher, Christy Nieves, teaches while a student blows her nose during class.

Livia Monge

Livia Monge

English teacher, Christy Nieves, teaches while a student blows her nose during class.

Taylor Berkheimer, Memorial Managing Editor

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Each year the dreaded “flu season” descends upon the halls of Memorial and brings with it the endless gauntlet of empty tissue boxes, sniffling noses and relentless sneezing. As medical absences begin to add up for many students, the chance for an exemption slips away.

Some school districts such as Cleveland and Union City have closed temporarily due to the amount of absences from widespread sickness throughout the student population.

“The district has no official policy on closing school due to illness,” Edmond Public Schools Superintendent Bret Towne said. “When there is an increase in absences due to illness we monitor the increase in staff and student absences to determine if, or when it is no longer viable to be in class for instruction, any decision to close would also be looking to the future to determine if closing might assist in shortening the future number of students and staff who possibly could became ill.”

For Edmond schools, medically excused absences still count towards a student’s chance for an exemption. This may account for the reason behind sick students still coming to school despite being at risk of infecting other students and starting a chain reaction of illness

“Students shouldn’t be penalized for being genuinely sick, the main reason that strep and the flu have been so perpetuated throughout the student body is because students could lose credit in a class if they miss so many days, and not every student has the means to go to the doctor to receive a note,” senior Sarah Green said. “During my sophomore and junior years I did not have health insurance, so if I did not go to school I would have absences that counted towards my credit in classes.”

In the past, there have been modifications made to the district policy on medical absences. In 2009, when the H1N1 influenza virus affected many students, EPS changed the policy to increase the amount of absences one could have to still qualify for an exemption.

“I have had so many students who come to school sick just for the exemption,” teacher Regan Killackey said. “For many kids, an exemption is more important than others becoming ill.”

Because of this year’s flu epidemic, students should be diligent in washing their hands and keeping their water bottles and work areas clean to avoid becoming sick like so many students already have.  

Contact Taylor Berkheimer at [email protected]

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