Why Magnet Students are a Main Contributor to the Flu Epidemic

By: Brooklyn Lile
Being in the midst of flu season, there is tons of talk about the flu and how to prevent potential outbreaks. Several ideas are thrown around, including vaccines, sanitation techniques, etc. but one major contributor that is usually not considered is Magnet or honors students.
The push for high school students to enroll in multiple college-level classes per semester leaves no room for absence. Students enrolled in the Magnet program must complete four AP classes before graduating. Also, if a class has an AP or honors option, that must be taken. Magnet students who come to school with illnesses because they cannot miss a class not only spread the illness to fellow students, but also to teachers.
Several classes at Barren County even have extremely strict rules on attendance. Students enrolled in the Certified Nursing Assistant course, for example, are only allowed three absences over the course of a semester before being kicked out of the class. Several seniors are enrolled in anatomy and physiology at SKYCTC, where only five absences are allowed per semester.
Of course, most classes don’t have guidelines on attendance, but they don’t really need them. The amount of content taught in one hour and thirty minutes in an AP class is tremendous – plus, the difficulty and rigor of the class would make no student want to miss school.
So, why does this matter? Magnet students with schedules containing two or three AP classes literally cannot afford to miss school in fear of ruining their GPA or getting behind. Consequently, they come to school infected with viruses and bacteria galore when they should be at home, keeping their germs to themselves.
Last year, a friend of mine was taking CNA and was fearful of what an absence would do to her grades and likelihood of passing her exam, not to mention the extremely strict absence policy. Instead of staying home, like the doctor had requested, she came to school with the flu. While she should have been at home allowing her body to rest, she was practicing taking vital signs while puking into a trash bag.
Administrators are quick to suggest that strict attendance policies are important to students because it prepares us for the workforce. While employers clearly want workers with good attendance, it’s almost ridiculous to believe that businesses, especially those related to the medical field, would want workers to come to work with such contagious illnesses. Think of those that work in hospitals or nursing homes where an infected worker could spread illnesses to patients. Having good work ethic is one thing, but risking the health of oneself and others is another.
Not only do honors students not miss school as often, they also don’t get as much sleep as non-honors students, which weakens their immune system making them more susceptible to contracting illnesses like the flu. According to a study completed in high schools in Iowa, students taking AP/college courses slept approximately one hour and forty minutes less a night than non-AP/college course takers. This sleep deprivation makes students who already don’t miss school much more likely to get sick and then still come to school.
Thousands of dollars and hours go into research for the flu vaccine every year in hopes of decreasing the number of people that contract it and the likelihood of an epidemic, but every year, thousands of magnet students come to school with the flu and spread it to fellow magnet students – an endless viral cycle.