Stress Builds When Students and Teachers Miss School

Sophomore+Maddie+Allen+has+a+medical+diagnosis+that+often+leads+to+her+missing+school.++She+has+learned+to+take+things+one+assignment+at+a+time+to+reduce+the+stress+she+feels+from+falling+behind.++

Autumn Baldwin

Sophomore Maddie Allen has a medical diagnosis that often leads to her missing school. She has learned to take things one assignment at a time to reduce the stress she feels from falling behind.

Autumn Baldwin, Staff Reporter

               BOOM, BOOM, BOOM. That’s the sound of your heart beating in your head as you rise out of bed. It’s 7am on Monday morning, freezing outside. It’s that time of year again, when everyone is getting sick. Although most people are cautious to avoid ill, sometimes your luck runs out, and the pounding in your head lets you know that it’s your turn to fight off some illness.  While you know that you need to stay home and rest in order to get well, a feeling of dread and anxiousness rises when you think about all that you will miss at school.  

              Sophomore Maddie Allen has a chronic illness called Ehlers Danlos Syndrome and Amplified Musculoskeletal Pain Syndrome. Ehlers Danlos Syndrome is a genetic connective tissue disease that causes intractable pain, where Amplified Musculoskeletal Pain Syndrome is a medical condition in which an individual develops an abnormal pain reflex. Because of this condition, Maddie faces the challenges of being sick on a regular basis. 

               Maddie experiences constant pain, and has trouble lifting arms, because of her joint hypermobility, which has caused her to experience many dislocations.  Because of this, she must be aware of her surroundings so that she is not injured and forced to stay home and recover. “Hallways are difficult, because of the chance of being bumped around.  It hurts. Sometimes stairs are hard.” But navigating through the hallways is not the only obstacle for her. The side effects of her treatment plan also made school difficult. “Focusing in class with all the medicine I take makes me feel like I have a ‘brain fog,’ so keeping up with classes can be hard” she explained. 

                Despite the struggles, Maddie has her own strategies that she has used to help herself get back on track with the demands of school when she is forced to stay home to recover or when she misses class for medical appointments.  When stressed about catching up, setting up a plan could make things more doable. Maddie said she will often complete one assignment, take a break, and then repeat the process until everything is caught up. 

I usually ask my students to stay in dialogue with me. Especially if they are in an honors class. It takes a while to make up stuff. I always encourage them to sign up for a NEST with me, that way if they are struggling to catch up, we can have one on one time and I can help them to get back on track.”

— Kristy Johnson, GCHS English teacher

             Another technique to handle the stress of missed school is to split assignments/work up into several days, and to use technology to stay aware of what is going on inside the classroom.  Maddie said, “I try to do as much as I can on Google Classroom,” explained Maddie. 

            Sometimes it is best to stay home, because you are too sick to be exposed to others, but you can spend your time planning or reading during rest periods. Don’t use sickness as an excuse to put off the work, because that could lead to more stress when you come back. Kristy Johnson, a member of Great Crossing High School’s English department,  understands firsthand the stress that comes from missing school. She often struggles in the winter and has had bronchitis and pneumonia several times in the past few winters. She emphasized the importance of communication with the teacher. “I usually ask my students to stay in dialogue with me. Especially if they are in an honors class. It takes a while to make up stuff. I always encourage them to sign up for a NEST with me, that way if they are struggling to catch up, we can have one on one time and I can help them to get back on track.” 

            Mrs. Johnson, like many other teachers at Great Crossing, uses the app Remind, to communicate with students. “Remind is an easy way to answer my students’ questions  when they aren’t able to be in the classroom. I also use it to update students on tests coming up or things they need to study for.”

           Although most teachers put their work on google classroom, all work may not be accessible. However, many teachers have folders of each day’s class work/homework. Senior Sammy Smith said, “I go back to the previous days that I missed and collect all the information that I missed prior to kinda settling back in. That is especially useful when you have missed several days, due to sickness. Not only get your current work for that day, but get all the makeup work. I usually go to the folders in my teachers classroom and communicate with them about previous lessons I wasn’t here for, or any help that I need.” 

       So next time your head pounds and your body is screaming for time to rest and recover, don’t feel guilty about staying in bed instead of walking through the school doors. Though completing work is mandatory, your health is crucial. Be smart about protecting yourself from sickness, and take steps to heal if you do get sick. Once well, develop a plan to get back on track and caught up with class.