This semester students have had to deal with a substantial flu outbreak on top of school and extracurriculars.
Influenza, commonly known as “the flu”, is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat and sometimes the lungs. Symptoms vary but can include: fever, cough, sore throat, stuffy nose, body aches and chills. According to CDC.gov, “the flu viruses spread mainly by tiny droplets made when people with the flu cough, sneeze or talk.” These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people nearby. This explains how the flu has spread so quickly on campus, with students continuing to roam around campus while sick. Junior Megan Lear says that she believes she caught the flu this way. As she waited to be interviewed, Lear says at least ten people passed by “and eight of them were coughing.” This shows that a significant number of students are getting sick at once. Lear has had the flu before and says this time was no different considering it started the same, with a sore throat and ear pain. However, for sophomore Eleanor Grindinger, the flu started off differently. Grindinger says that she thought she had strep throat at first since sore throat was the first symptom she had. After going to the Urgent Care across from campus and getting tested for strep and flu, Grindinger was diagnosed with the flu. She says when she gets the flu it normally “starts off like a cold” with symptoms including cough, sore throat, and runny nose. Grindinger says since the flu did not start off with a stuffy nose as usual, she did not catch it right away. As for missing classes, Grindinger says she feels that despite doctors’ recommendations of getting as much rest as possible, students typically feel the pressure of needing to attend class even while sick.
According to Ashley Dunklin, the best thing for students to do when they are out sick is to contact the professors so that they are aware why they are missing class rather than just skipping class. “Sometimes professors are more considerate towards students when they are sick” says Dunklin. If students are told by their doctors to miss class for a week, they are advised to continue to communicate with their professors each day they miss. Although some departments have uniform rules for absences, there are some professors that decide themselves on absence policies. Therefore, students should set up individual plans with each of their professors. Dunklin goes on to say that students need to ask for extensions and do as much as they can while they are out. It is never a good idea to assume professors know why you are out of class. This also shows professors that they are trying to stay on top of things. However, Dunklin also emphasizes that getting rest while out should be a priority. Some students have pushed themselves too much and relapsed from not taking care of themselves. Overall, since the school does not have a uniform policy on absences, thoroughly communicating with professors is always the best option for students who are out sick.
The best way to protect yourself against the flu is to get an annual flu vaccine. Most pharmacies, such as CVS, offer free flu vaccines with the presence of your insurance card. As for everyday preventive actions, the CDC.gov recommends “staying away from people who are sick, covering coughs and sneezes and frequent handwashing.”