Sick of being sick

by Ellina Chulpaeff

If I told you I spent the week of midterms in bed, not opening a single textbook, you might tell me that it’s a dream come true. If I told you that it was a hospital bed and I had to make up all my midterms over Semester Break, you would tell me that I just described one of your worst nightmares.


That’s what it was — a nightmare. Getting sick at Harvard-Westlake is bad enough. With several extracurricular commitments adding on to the strenuous academic schedule, students simply cannot allow anything to get in the way of their busy schedules. Students and teachers alike frown upon the idea of missing school. Most teachers have a policy requiring students to make up all tests and homework the very next day. In theory, this policy may make sense in that it doesn’t allow students to fall even further behind. Yet, it doesn’t factor in the pain of falling ill, the inability to concentrate on schoolwork and that rest, not studying, should be the main priority.


Students should be recuperating when ill, not feeling even more stressed out. Instead, they are missing even more sleep staying up thinking about the papers that have to be written, the missed review days before the big test, the unfinished projects or the skipped practice leaving the team to restrategize.


Although it’s true that the amount students have to make up after an absence really depends on the teacher, many teachers still insist that everything has to be turned in the day a student returns to school. I remember lying in bed during midterms running on no less than 15 pills a day trying to figure out when I’m supposed to study. It was only at three o’clock the day before I took my first two finals in a row when I could coherently read over my notes. Although I was upset about having to cram the night before for each exam and coming in during Semester Break, I still felt guilty. I felt guilty about getting sick and inconveniencing my teachers who had to grade hundreds of multiple choice problems by hand. I felt even worse about letting down my cheerleading stunt group who depend on me to go up into a pyramid.


Yet it wasn’t my fault. People get sick — that’s just the way life is. But there has to be an easier way of transitioning back to school.


Maybe students shouldn’t have to make up quizzes. I remember one of my math teachers substituted our unit test grade for each missed quiz. I thought that was great — you’re still obligated to learn all the material without having to spend frees taking quizzes. Or maybe sick students should be excused from turning in all the small homework assignments — a week of missed homework can certainly pile up. Maybe teachers should send their lectures out to absent students instead of forcing them to transcribe other students’ illegible notes.


Still, no matter what the policy is, it’s clear that after falling ill for an extended amount of time, students need an easier way to come back to school. They should be able to lie in bed without having to worry about their math homework.

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