Langara’s lack of policy surrounding sickness leaves students and staff with a tough choice

A late wave of the flu means more students are getting sick


Reported by Maxim Fossey

When business student Ben Newman was sick recently, he stayed home to recover and got a range of contradictory opinions from his instructors on whether or not he was too ill to be in school.

Langara’s lack of policies surrounding illnesses has staff and students like Newman confused about whether or not they’re too sick to attend classes. Recent bulletins from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control show there has been a late season wave of influenza A across the province.

Vancouver Coastal Health hasn’t announced an official outbreak at Langara College, specifically, though students and teachers have said there have been more people missing than usual from class.

Newman said he got a mixed bag of reactions from his instructors.

“Some told me that it was fine, others say ‘contact your classmates for missed material,’” he said. “One told me to ‘toughen up.’”

‘I always try to go to class, even when I’m sick’

Newman suggested there should be a policy about students missing classes because of sickness.

“It should be part of the syllabus so that it’s easier for students to know about them,” he said.

Susan Kensett, with the health services department at Langara, said the college doesn’t have a specific policy for what to do when students or staff are sick because that’s the responsibility of the health authority.

Heather Amos, the communications officer at the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, wrote in an email that schools should be reporting all influenza-like outbreaks to either the health authority or the centre of disease control.  

Chris Horan, a computer science TA at Langara, said there’s confusion among the staff regarding specific sickness policies on campus. Horan said there should be information sessions held in departments so instructors know what the policies are on campus.

“I always try to go to class, even when I’m sick. I never miss it, but I think some students abuse that power sometimes,” Horan said.

Horan said that what sick students do at Langara really depends on their instructors.

“Different teachers say they don’t care whether or not you don’t bring a doctor’s note in, even if you miss quizzes they seem to understand your situation,” Horan said.

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