Franny Flu: Why is everyone getting sick?

by Selah Dorn (’25) | November 18, 2022

Art by Tessa Gross (’24)

My religion class normally has around twenty-five kids. Yet these past couple of weeks, barely half of them were here at the same time. This holds true not just for my classes; everyone is getting sick. Many have blamed it on the homecoming dance and the “Halloweekend” festivities, but these events normally don’t lead to such a massive outbreak. So why is everyone suddenly sick with something that is not COVID-19?

Isolation from COVID-19 successfully decreased the spread of not only the virus, but also a multitude of other common diseases like the flu. As emergency medicine physician Dr. Sarah Combs stated in the New York Times, “the immune system works by recognition and repetition… And when you give it a bit of a rest… we now have a generation of immune-naive children.” Throughout quarantine, we were shielded from a plethora of viruses that we are normally exposed to. This break from infection meant that our immune systems became, for lack of a better word, complacent. When it was finally time to return to pre-pandemic life, we could not deal with the onslaught of once-familiar but now-forgotten illnesses. 

A lack of resistance is not the only thing that has changed, however. COVID-19 isolation may have changed our physical well-being, but it also certainly impacted our perspective on infectious diseases as well. Over quarantine, we began to place much more emphasis on staying home when sick to protect ourselves and others from potential harm. This mindset has carried over into our 2022 lives, as we stay home when we might not have previously. Back in middle school, if someone contracted a cold, they didn’t stay home; they hoped that their friends wouldn’t get sick. Now, we stay away from each other at the first sound of a cough. This seems counter-intuitive: shouldn’t this prevent more people from getting sick? Yes, and it does. But it also gives the impression that many more people are sick than before the pandemic, as many more people are staying home. These new social norms were, of course, necessary during the pandemic. And some of them, like staying home and wearing a mask when sick, are still considered necessary by many. However, there was a reason we used to push through sickness to go to school: if you miss even a day, you are immediately thrown out of the loop. Those who have missed days, even weeks, run the risk of falling behind in their schoolwork and missing out on important information in class. Ultimately, if we are going to continue pushing for increased isolation, we also need to make changes to school policies—changes that allow students at home to keep up.

Categories: Opinions, Uncategorized

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