Record high numbers of reported flu cases this year are affecting the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the country is experiencing the highest rate of illness caused by an influenza virus since 2009.
This wide-spread outbreak has affected faculty, students and others associated with Weber State University. However, instructors have been understanding when it comes to students who are gone because of the flu.
“You hate to put the health of others at risk by coming in when you are not feeling good,” said Alan Ferrin, an instructor in the multimedia department at Weber State.
Becoming ill has had a negative impact on the academic progress of several students, including Montana Thompson. Her bout lasted nearly a week.
“I started having symptoms last Thursday (Jan. 18),” Thompson said. “When you’re sick and have the flu, it’s not like when you have a head cold and can still press on. You have to stay home.”
Thompson was pleased with the way her professors handled her absence.
“They were great. (Thursday night) I emailed all my professors for classes I had on Friday and Monday. That way they are more flexible with dates and still let you turn work in.”
Dennis Kunimura is a veteran instructor in the math department at Weber State and said he is more willing to work with students who have been out of class because of the flu.
“Typically, (my students) let me know if they are going to miss the class,” Kunimura said. “I just let them make up the work if necessary.”
This school year, Kunimura began taking attendance for the first time. This has helped him formulate a track record of students.
“I have a pretty good track of who keeps coming. If they come up and say they have the flu, I will let them make up the exam, assignment, or whatever the case is.” Kunimura said.
Weber State student Maddy Thibodeau believes any late work resulting from the flu should be accepted.
“I would hope that if a student has a condition, they should still be allowed to turn in work,” Thibodeau said.
Thibodeau also added she thinks attendance policies are over-enforced to begin with.
“We are college students and should be treated as such. If we want to attend class we can, and if not that’s fine. We are the ones paying for schooling.”
For students like Thompson, she took a day to catch up on missed work after recovering from the flu. She is confident she will be able to ease back into the swing of academics.
“I just have school (to focus on),” Thompson said. “But for people who have full-time or part-time jobs with full-time school, it’s going to be worse for them.”
Kunimura is not worried about student absences caused by the flu.
“Most of them have only missed one or two classes,” Kunimura said. “I don’t really think it has set them that far back. Nowadays with Canvas, they can keep in contact with me to figure out where they’re at, what they have to study and so forth.”