Back to School Sickness

The beginning of the year brought new illnesses for students.


Photo by Maddie Ellis

Masks are not required at Elkhorn Public Schools, but suggested.

As the new school year came closing in, so did an array of sicknesses. Desks became empty, and students were constantly sniffling, sneezing, and coughing. Everyone thought this would be over by now… But it is not.

With fewer precautions being taken than during 2021-21 school year, sicknesses are spreading more easily this year. The optional masking allows students to choose whether or not they were comfortable enough to leave the mask behind.

One myth that many people believe is that wearing masks actually made others more susceptible to illnesses. Going from wearing a mask at all times last year and taking tons of precautions to pretty much having to take their own precautions can be rough on people, causing illness to spread more easily. Constantly having a mask on in any public situations for about a year may have made people’s immune systems deteriorate since it stopped exposure to any sickness at all.

Although there have been fewer quarantines than last year, various other illnesses have spread, causing students to stay home. This is not technically because less students are getting sick with COVID, but because of the change in quarantine rules; this year less students are being sent home for their classmates’ positive results, and if they are sent home, it is for less than two weeks. 

More students are staying home due to colds and other viruses, while being sent home due to a COVID exposure is much less common. 

Without having a Zoom option this year, students who are sick enough to need to stay home may be more prone to fall behind in classes. High school students already have a lot to worry about, so along with lots of homework and the possibility of getting sick, it can be an extremely stressful time. 

“Especially since it is my junior year, it’s extra hard,” junior Kayla Beachy said. 

Junior year of high school is known for being the most difficult year. With taking the ACT or SAT, starting to look for colleges, and teachers beginning to prepare students for college curriculum, junior year is a hard year, and it makes it much harder with COVID-19 protocols and other illnesses. Having to worry about getting sick can a stressful for anyone, let alone students who have much more to worry about. 

Since students already have so much to deal with, the idea of taking extra precautions in order to avoid getting illnesses has slipped many of their minds. 

“If I get sick, I get sick, I guess,” junior Jaiden Mencke said. 

 In Mencke’s case, she stayed home sick from school for four days, leaving her with lots of school work to make up. 

“I feel like because I missed four days, I had a lot of homework to catch up on and I wasn’t able to do it outside of school,” Mencke said. 

The first few months of this school year have particularly stood out for the amount of sickness being spread. Students noticed throughout the first few weeks that their classmates were either sniffling, coughing, or even absent from school all together. 

For Beachy, she missed the first two days of school, but luckily did not miss too much since the first few days are not extremely notable. 

Many students and teachers switched from either not wearing a mask at the beginning of the year to now either wearing a mask or ditching the mask. For the most part, students have noticed their teachers who were once maskless going back to their previous mask usage, in order to protect themselves and students from the ongoing viruses. Both Beachy and Mencke noticed a majority of their teachers switching from no masks to masks from the start of the year to now.

“I feel like a lot started out with none and then they were all kind of like ‘I’m gonna protect myself and my students by wearing them’,” Mencke said. 

Although students are still getting sick with other illnesses, or even COVID-19, a majority of students refuse the mask, since there is not a mandate for schools in the state of Nebraska. 

“I don’t wear a mask because I’m fully vaccinated and have already had COVID twice, so I feel like there is a small chance of me getting it again,” Mencke said.

Similar to Mencke and many other students and staff, Beachy also chose to ditch the mask this year because she is fully vaccinated.

Compared to the last school year, this year has been extremely different due to the lack of mask mandating, no more Zoom options, and less precautions being taken. Although different to last year in particular, the school year is as close to a normal year as it can get for now.