Sick of perfect attendance

Attendance policies and burnt-out Americans

Graphic by Sienna Parmelee | Production Assistant

Class time is important, but not enough for my friend’s professor to say, “You guys are in college now. You shouldn’t be getting COVID anyway.”

Syllabus week has cursed me with colds and COVID for the past two semesters, making me wonder how anyone can have perfect attendance anymore. Every college class I have ever taken had all the needed information in the Canvas shell, so insisting that students come to class when they are sick is unnecessary.

As a young try-hard, I would muster through middle and high school classes in a daze of illness. My mom’s young students were told to go back to her classroom unless they had a fever or were throwing up. This not only encourages people to spread disease, but it also tells them to place productivity over health.

I believe that this trend of pushing through illness, or even injury, for the sake of attendance continues throughout adulthood.

It is well known that the paid time off offered in Europe dwarfs that of the United States. America is “the only advanced economy that does not mandate any paid vacation time for workers,” according to a study done by the Center for Economic and Policy Research. Benefit News also reports that Americans take two weeks off per year, while the average European takes 24. It’s not only Europeans, either. Aside from sick days, French workers are guaranteed five weeks of vacation time per year.

I often think of this when I hear someone spout off about how “nobody” wants to work anymore. It was not inspiring to see news stories about a teacher giving lesson plans from her hospital bed in 2020. It was absurd.

With no more quarantine instructions from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, I know my peers will soon be coming to class and their jobs with COVID. This reflects a toxic, unforgiving and arguably selfish work ethic, and I struggle to see a way around it. Within my program, I have all the tools I need to complete my work and studies without sacrificing the health of those around me.

I hope professors understand that even the most dedicated students are not immune. Missing class as soon as the semester begins is disorienting. I am always appreciative of those who show understanding and remember that I am not perfect. I am simply a young student trying to learn in a historically tumultuous time.