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The 10 Commandments for Going to Class Sick

We’re deep into flu season, and with the number of outbreaks on the rise, there needs to be a serious talk about how to stop the spread of these ungodly germs. I know that professors preach the “if you’re sick stay home” line on a regular basis, but we all know this is not the gospel truth. The same professors that tell us to make our health a priority are the very same who take percentage points off our final grades whenever we miss a class. So if you’re going to go to class sick (and we all are) we need to follow some basic rules.

 1. Honor thyself: that thy days may be long upon the land. If you want to get better, you have to treat yourself right. Make sure you get enough sleep at night, and come to class prepared. Bring your own mini drug store arsenal: tissues, cough drops, tea, water, and Pepto Bismol tablets. Unfortunately, we aren’t in high school anymore, and most class rooms are severely lacking in the tissue department. It’s better to expect the worst.

2. Thou shalt not sneeze nor cough upon thy neighbor. I’ve had this happen to me A LOT (and have heard plenty of horror stories from friends). Come on, guys. We’re all smart enough to get into college, so you’d think we would already know to cover our mouths when we’re sick. Apparently, this is not the case, and I’ve sat in front of a girl who coughed on me so badly that I felt her infectious spittle on the back on my neck. Please learn from her past mistakes (and my own misfortune) and just cover your freaking mouth.

3. Thou shalt not begrudge thy neighbor’s use of Purell. If you refuse to follow commandment 2, then the least you could do is refrain from giving your classmate the evil eye while they empty their entire Purell bottle into their hands. Is it a bit of an overreaction? Yes. But it’s super awkward to ask someone to “please cover your mouth” or to “stop coughing on me,” because it seems so obvious and stupid. If you’re not going to cover your mouth, I’m not going to stop using hand sanitizer. End of story.

4. Thou shalt not hack as tho thou hath the plague. I always feel bad for the hackers in class, because it’s obvious they’re trying to keep the noise level to a minimum (and it’s obviously not their fault), but the constant coughing can make it really hard to hear the professor. If you have a bad cough, try sucking on one of your cough drops you smartly put in your backpack (after reading commandment number 1) or excuse yourself to the hallway and take a trip to the water fountain. If you really can’t stop coughing you might want to rethink your decision of going to class — no one likes a hacker.

5. Thou shalt not complain. Listen. Being sick sucks. We’ve all been there. But chances are, there is at least one other person in your class that is just as sick as you are,  if not more so. Please don’t incite a “I’m sicker than you” argument, because you’re both probably pretty sick, so no one wins. It’s not going to make you feel better, and it’s just going to make everyone wish you had stayed home in the first place.

6. Thou shall do all thy work. This ties into commandment number 5, but if you are sick and still show up to class, you need to have your shit together. Unless you’ve emailed or talked to the professor and they’ve given you an extension, you need to have your work done before class. You may not do that great of a job on it, but trying your best and getting a 72 on your assignment is better than not turning anything in and getting a 0.

7. Thou shalt keep all thy possessions to thyself. I can’t tell you how many times my friends have let me use their pen or take a sip of their water only to tell me afterwards that they have mono or something. THIS IS NOT FUNNY (at least to the person you just trolled). If you’re sick, be conscious of the fact that you might still be contagious. That means that you should try to keep all your snot covered items to yourself.

8. Thou shalt not bear false witness regarding thy ailment. This commandment goes hand in hand with number 7. Don’t go to class if you’re seriously ill. If you have mono, or whooping cough, stay home for however long the doctor tells you to stay home. Yes, it sucks when you have to make up tests and get extensions on all your work, but professors are usually pretty chill about it as long as you have something pretty serious and a note from your doctor. If you fail to follow this commandment, you risk getting your classmates and friends sick as well, which just continues the gross illness cycle. See it as a chance to catch up on your favorite show on Netflix. We all deserve a break once in a while.

9. Remember nap time and keep it holy. Speaking of breaks, there’s a reason doctors tell you to drink lots of fluids and to get plenty of rest. Most students I know keep on doing their normal thang, only to complain later about how they aren’t getting any better. When you’re sick your body needs time to rest and regroup, so if you don’t take naps already (in which case you are seriously missing out), try to take a nap or at least a mental break in between classes and homework. It may seem like you’ll fall behind, but your work will suffer if you don’t give your body time to rest. And don’t even think about going to the gym or working out. Give your body a break until you feel like yourself again.

10. If thou feels as though thou shall vomit, thou shalt not go to class in the first place. Sort of speaks for itself, doesn’t it?

About the Author

Catie Simpson

Catie is a junior majoring in Human Development and Family Studies. She's also the resident townie and culinary enthusiast due to a brief stint at the CIA (the culinary school not the secret government agency). She currently works at a Baby Temperament Lab on campus where she tries to get babies to do dangerous things. She's also on the twitter.

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Staff Picks: Grabbing A Drink With A Prominent Penn Stater

If you had the chance to hear about Penn State from (or throw down at a State College bar for a night with) some of its most prominent figures, who would you want to grab a beer with?

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