The OES Sickness

by Elie Doubleday

I feel sick. And I’m sure about 54% of the OES student body does as well (I don’t actually have any scientific data to back that number up, I just thought it sounded appropriate). It’s one of those things that’s been going around since November I’m pretty sure, and our student body just can’t seem to kick it. And I have a theory on why that is.

As an OES student, it’s very easy to build up a solid case for why you really just can’t miss a day of school. I did it on Monday. And Tuesday. And Wednesday. See, yesterday when I wanted to take a sick day but though I shouldn’t, I had to consider that I have a calculus test next week and calculus is undeniably my hardest class and the one I should not miss. And after that I was supposed to give a tour to a prospective English teacher. I have a group performance in Actor’s Studio Friday and we hadn’t even rehearsed our scene yet. And I’ve got an in-class Spanish essay this week, so if I miss class that means I’ll have to make up the work. And by this point, it’s lunchtime so I really should just finish out the day. (It should be noted that I ended up taking the first two classes off anyways).

OES has a stigma around taking a sick day. Because the classes tend to be so rigorous, the students just generally feel that it’s easier to go to school sick then try and make up the work. Because when you miss a class, you not only have to do the homework, but you have to make up the classwork as well, which can often involve teaching yourself the concept or trying to find a time to meet with the teacher and go over it.

And it’s because of this stigma that this stupid sickness won’t leave OES alone. When someone gets sick but decides to go to school sick anyways, they’re exposing the rest of the student body to their cold or virus or whatever. They’re also prolonging their healing period, meaning they’ll most likely feel like crap for longer. The sickness then travels (at lightning speed) to everyone in the student body, before almost dying out (living inside a few students) only to make a comeback a week later.

It will never leave us because someone will always be sick and will inevitably chose to stay at school and therefore continue to pass it around. Additionally, because some students use taking a sick day as a way to just skip school, teachers don’t always believe people are actually sick. It’s easy to get a raised eyebrow when you say you won’t be in class because you aren’t feeling well, which just makes you feel guilty about leaving and makes you reconsider your decision to leave (or makes you unwilling to leave in the future). The feeling when someone doesn’t believe you actually feel terrible makes you unwilling to ask for the time to get better.

So here I am, mid-March, trying and failing to not be sick. With winterim coming up, and after that spring break, I’d rather not be sick and forced to spend my free time in bed. And yet, if I chose to recover now, thereby missing school, I’ll end up spending my free time writing essays or something.

My (almost) happy medium is taking either the morning or afternoon off of school (that way I’m not missing the whole day) to try and get better in increments (this is not how healing works). If OES (students and teachers alike) relaxed around the idea of taking a sick day, this dilemma would disappear and teachers wouldn’t always have students interrupting class to ask where the tissue box is.

One thought on “The OES Sickness

  1. This is possibly the most relatable post I’ve read on the dig in quite a while.

    Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epidemic_model) gives a nice mathematical summary of the effects of sick populations in a given area (hat tip to Lauren for teaching differential equations last year). The SIR (susceptible, infected, recovered) model is best for a small outbreak like this where immunity lasts longer than the time period we care about.

    Essentially, every time a sick person and a well person interact (and since OES is a small enough community, we can assume that almost everyone runs into everyone) there’s a chance the well person will get sick. Also, every day, there’s a chance that a sick person will recover. Once someone’s recovered, we say they won’t get sick again in the near future.

    This kind of model generates a plot like this (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compartmental_models_in_epidemiology#/media/File:Sirsys-p9.png). That little green peak there? The annoying period of time when it looks like half of everyone you talk to is sick. Mathematically, quarantining – even if that’s just taking a day off – makes that green bulge smaller = makes fewer people sick every day. There’s mathematical proof – you are 100% doing everyone a favor staying home. Whether that’s possible with OES workloads is still up to debate 🙂

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