Post # 1
Hi Fellow Teacher Bees,
I’m so gosh darn frustrated! I’m a special education teacher at a private school for non-verbal children with autism. We work with our students on a 1:1 basis and teach them academic, self-help, social, and language skills. We are constantly in contact with bodily fluids due the nature of our therapy, so I catch about 4-6 colds/flus a year, minimum. I understand the risk and am okay with it.
However, this past week, 5 staff members, including myself, have been diagnosed with bronchitis. One of our students has been coming to school for the past month with a horrific cough/wheeze with discolored phlegm and a temperature between 98.8 and 99.9. Based on our school policy, unless a student has a fever of 100 degrees or higher, is experiencing vomiting/diarrhea or has a severe, undiagnosed skin rash, we cannot ask them to stay home or get picked up from school.
I am worried because our students are non-verbal and cannot communicate that they are feeling under the weather. I am also at my wits end because teachers out with bronchitis = lots of understaffing. And we all know that when bronchitis gets worse, it can lead to pneumonia.
What is the sick policy at your school? Do you think my concern that a student continuously arrives to school with these symptoms, and is infecting other students and staff is valid? The administration at my school are being really uncooperative.
Post # 3
- Wedding: January 2011 - Vintage Villas
Um, I don’t have any advice for you because I’m not a teacher yet, but I just want to say that you have basically my DREAM JOB. I’m officially jealous. 🙂
Post # 4
@cardigan – Aw, yay! We need more solid people in this field, and I think it’s amazing that you’re seeking out this kind of work. I adore my students to bits and pieces and strongly believe in what we do to help them grow as independent individuals. But boy, it’s rough sometimes! I have more bite marks, bruises, and pee-stained shoes than I know what to do with, but their little smiles make it pretty darn worth it. Good luck finding your dream job once you’re done with all the pre-teacher goodness!
P.S. I am officially jealous you live in my dream city! =)
Post # 5
I totally feel your pain.. I teach preschool for teacher’s kids inside of a public k8 school. We have basically the same policy as you. Since the first day of school (aug 23) we’ve had a horrible stomach virus with awful diarrhea going around our center like the plague. We have to wait for a child to have 3 before we can send them home which basically leads to contaminating the whole center. We’ve asked to temporarily change the policy until we kick this virus but they’re also uncooperative. I think your request is valid but unfortunately there isn’t a whole lot you can do. Sorry you’re going through this- just know its not just your school.
Post # 6
I feel your pain. I have a similar policy, but I teach JH/HS.
My Fiance, however, is a special ed teacher and his policy is similar except for multiple-disabled (namely wheelchair-bound) kids, who are considered “medically fragile.” So if they so much as sniffle, their parents are called. If it’s deemed serious enough, which is up to the teacher and principal, then they can have the kid taken to the hospital. Having said that, Mr. W gets sick A LOT on the job (as well as bite marks, bruises, and pee-stained shoes!)
I think that your concern is valid, but in my experience, policies of this sort are very hard to change. Since the condition seems more chronic with this child, can you ask the principal to call the student’s parents and suggest that they give him more time to recover–s/he could suggest that it may be that the stress of going to school everyday is inhibiting his recovery and perhaps he just needs a few days off. But if the kid isn’t meeting policy guidelines for being sent home, you unfortunately can’t force parents to come pick him up.
Post # 7
I teach kinder, and for our school it’s very similar. In fact I had a kid throw up all over his table the other day, he had been to the nurse and I knew he was feeling awful, but the temp wasn’t high enough to send him home. It’s very frustrating. Not as bad as bronchitis but still not fun 🙁
Post # 8
I teach in a charter school and have 60 kids in my class with a team of 3 teachers (myself included and a full time aide). So you can imagine that when illness starts to go around it takes FOREVER to run it’s course through 60 kids! Our school/parents are pretty understanding about sending kids home. If they are throwing up we DEFINITELY send them home, fever or not. We really try not to keep sick kids in class.
We don’t have any specific guidelines about when we can or can’t send them home. As long as our attendance is done in the morning and they are marked present, we get our funding. That could be a reason why your admin is being difficult. Less students in class = less money. Sad, but true. I think your admin is being a little harsh. You’re right, your students cannot verbalize their discomfort or feelings so how would you know that they need to go home? Sorry for your situation, I think getting sick (a few times a year for me) is the worst part of our job. =(
Post # 9
I have to echo cardigan! You have my dream job!
You seem to have really valid conerns about your students, and the rest of the faculty, an dI hope the admin will bend a little. Also, have you considered taking it up with the student’s parent(s)? They might be understanding. Maybe they aren’t even aware how bad his sickness is and want to get him checked by a doctor.
Post # 10
I used to be a teaching assistant in a similar school (special ed with multiple disabilities, many severe medical cases, many non-verbal) and we encountered the same problem – kids clearly sick being sent to school daily, staff and other students getting sick all the time (we had several “cycles” of strep last winter). It was even worse though because it was a residential school (for some students) and many of the residential students’ families lived far away (2-4 hour drive in some cases) so it was nearly impossible to send those kids home (though with the flu scare last year, we got a better policy). Lots of tissues, lots of gloves, and LOTS of Purell!!!
Post # 11
ugh mine is the same. i work at a daycare and if their fever isnt about 100.5 they are stuck. they also have to either puke or have diareah 3 times before we even call the parents. i understand parents have jobs too but i have a family at home to worry about too plus 15 other kids in my room. i always have to bleach everything in the room at night and i hate cleaning up puke. there have been several times i told my boss they puked multiple times just so i dont have to deal with it again. i know its dishonest but i hate cleaning up my own puke let alone someone elses…
Post # 12
- Wedding: June 2010 - Tannery Pond at the Darrow School
Our school is extremely precautious with this type of thing and so the second a child has a hint of a fever or (god forbid) throws up, they are sent home immediately to try to avoid contaminating the rest of us!
I think a fever of any sort plus a cough would warrant having the child stay home, so I totally see your concern, that sucks, I’m sorry!