Academic pressure keeps sick students in school

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Audrey Burnley

Students feel stressed at the large workload they have after being absent from school.

There have been over 250 cases of sick students with excused absences at Carlmont since the beginning of November. However, far more than 10% of the Carlmont student body is ill.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the process of staying home due to sickness hasn’t changed much; the only significant change has been that students are now required to get a COVID test before returning to school.

“We assess them for symptoms, and at most times they’re required to get a COVID test because of the county guidelines that say if you have one or more COVID symptoms, you need a negative test to return,” said Heidi Flaig, Carlmont High School’s nurse.

However, the problem of forcing students to stay at home until they provide proof of a negative test has had a negative impact on some students.

“I had a friend who couldn’t come back to school until she got a negative COVID test. When she did, it came back negative at 5 a.m., but the school administration said that she had to miss another day,” said sophomore Zhanna Paredes.

In some cases, sick students will opt to stay in school to avoid the stress of not knowing how long they will be absent.

“I would never skip a day of school for a sick day because I’d be terrified of missing all the work. I missed one day of school at the beginning of this year, and it put me behind a week,” said Greta Leeb, a Carlmont junior.

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With kids missing from school, teachers try their best to be flexible with those who are absent.

“I send absentees a video of the lesson we’re doing that day, as well as any materials that we have,” said Matthew Miskelly, the head of the math department at Carlmont High School.

Some students argue that the extensions that teachers give are not enough to complete their missed work.

“They usually give a day, but I feel like it’s not enough because then I have the work from the day I went to school and the day that I missed, so I feel like it’s not enough time to make up all of the work that I missed,” Paredes said.

Even with Wednesday and Thursday flex, students feel like they struggle with catching up on their work.

“Flex is occasionally helpful, but it also is sometimes pointless because you really are only getting 20 minutes of actual work time, and that’s not a lot of time,” said Nicholas Tolod, a sophomore.

Because of the stress of needing to stay in school, many students are still coming sick.

“I literally have a sore throat right now, but I’m not gonna miss school,” Leeb said.

Teachers and staff stress the need to stay home if students have any symptoms.

“There’s all kinds of downsides to coming to school sick, including getting other people sick… We also find that people who come to school sick aren’t really learning or retaining the information that they should be when they’re feeling good,” Flaig said.