By Amber Ford
CCC Journalism Program
BLACKWOOD – This year’s flu season has been one of the worst in years and students face the challenge of trying to avoid catching the dreadful virus and being out sick. With the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting that the vaccine is only 25 percent effective against the worst strain of the flu, students who are worried about their professors’ attendance policies ponder – should they go to class when they’re sick?
Many CCC professors’ attendance policies allow only two or three unexcused absences before the student’s grade is lowered.
Denzel Ferreyra, a 20-year-old CCC student, says he’s shown up to class sick because his professor had a strict attendance policy. “I couldn’t afford my grade dropping for missing class,” says Ferreyra.
Cameron Mortimer, a 20-year-old CCC student, says she’s shown up to class sick because missing work stresses her out, but she’s not the only one. “Last semester a girl who sat next to me in class told me not to get too close to her because she had the flu. I asked her why she was here then and she told me it’s because she’s scared to miss class and not be able to catch up,” says Mortimer.
Expensive copays, lack of insurance and lack of time do not make getting a doctor’s note to excuse an absence easy for students.
Mortimer says it’s an expense and an inconvenience to get a doctor’s note just to be excused. “It’s hard to get a hold of my family doctor and if I want to see my doctor I have to pay a $40 copay,” says Mortimer. “Who’s trying to pay a copay just for a note?”
Ferreyra says he doesn’t even have insurance to cover a doctor’s visit. “I’d have to pay out of pocket for any doctor or hospital visit,” says Ferreyra. Ferreyra adds students might not have the time to spend up to an hour in a doctor’s office waiting for a note because of other obligations, such as work.
With students unable to get a doctor’s note to excuse an absence, they feel pressured to come to class sick.
Some professors understand the inconvenience of getting a doctor’s note.
Allison Green, a public speaking professor at CCC, says, “I don’t require a doctor’s note because of the issue of insurance and copays.”
In her classes, a doctor’s note just allows students to make up any work they missed. “My policy is that you can’t miss more than 20 percent of the course. There’s no consequence for missing 10 percent, but for Tuesday/Thursday classes, that’s like missing three classes,” says Green.
Mortimer says while getting a doctor’s note might be an inconvenience, it helps prevent the spread of the flu and colds in general. “If students get their absence excused they get the time to rest and not worry about their attendance affecting their grade and not spread whatever it is they have around campus,” says Mortimer.