Friday, December 09, 2005

Cough Cough Hack Hack

Nope, not me! I'm lucky so far.

One of my first year students just left my office after coughing and hacking her way through an office hour. I read her draft of her final essay; let's just say she has a lot more work yet to do on it than she's done so far. I hope I convinced her!

And now my throat feels suspiciously scratchy.

But I've noticed that a significant percentage of my first year students are missing class, while far fewer sophomores, juniors, and seniors seem to miss class. Why is this?

My Mentor suggests that the more advanced students "just suck it up" because they realize they can't afford to get behind, especially at this time of the year. She also said that maybe older students have better immune systems after being exposed to college germs for a year.

Both of those sound good, but I'd guess that the greater percentage of first years living in close dorm contact also contributes, as well as, maybe, less awareness of preventative stuff and a crappier diet.

Oddly, I recently heard someone assert that teaching employees take fewer sick days during the semester than non-teaching employees. But the person didn't say why.

So, I'm guessing the "suck it up" factor's big because most of us can't stand the idea of falling behind and can't easily pass off class sessions to other instructors. So we come even when we feel like crawling under covers and hiding from the world.

I'm also willing to hazard a guess that instructors average more income than non-instructors, and that we may be able to afford better preventative health care, diets, and so forth. My general and totally unscientific observation is that instructors are lots less likely to smoke than non-instructors, and that there's a correlation between smoking, upper respiratory infections, and sick days taken.

All of which further proves that I know nothing about anything medically relevant.

I'm of two minds in wanting my students to come to class sick: yeah, don't miss class just because you feel a little under the weather... and on the other hand, if you're really sick, don't come to class and share your germs with everyone else.

I washed my hands after my student left BEFORE I touched anything else in my office. So yeah, I'm a bit paranoid, sure.

And that scratchy throat I'm feeling. I definitely need to settle in with a nice hot toddy tonight to beat back those germs! Oh, yeah, it's Friday for sure!


  1. I probably *shouldn't* admit this, but as a person who never, ever gets a cold, sometimes, just sometimes I wish I could get one bad enough to made me think it appropriate to stay home instead of teach. I know, I'm sure I don't really want to get sick, but it's always greener on the other side.

  2. Time for a personal day, Ianqui?

    That way you don't actually have to be *sick*, which just isn't fun at all.

  3. My students are fairly used to me opening my bag mid-class and taking a migraine pill. I generally work through, but I have cancelled class on days I really don't feel up to coming in. They are few (maybe 1 each term in a bad year), but I feel no guilt when taking them. OTOH, I ask students who are ill to get notes from each other.

  4. That's a great idea, ADM.

    I make a point on the first day of classes to have my students exchange emails and phone numbers with each other so that they'll be able to get notes when they miss class.

  5. Perhaps non-teaching staff have a regular 5-day schedule instead of one with lectures & office hours dabbed over the week, and hence where a teaching employee might be sick on one of their "unscheduled" days and not need to call in sick, the non-teaching employee requires an official sick day?