The flu has swept through Oxford and the rest of Mississippi this winter with nearly 17,000 confirmed cases in the state.
Sandy Bentley, director of the student health center pharmacy, said the health center has not seen many more patients this flu season than it normally does. However, doctors have had to turn away students and send them to RedMed or Urgent Care because the campus center has met capacity.
Many teachers are pleading for students not to come to class with the flu, while others have offered no leniency on their attendance policies. Most students, though, said their teachers understood the circumstances and requested a doctor’s notes in exchange for excused absences. Outside of the university, on Jan. 25, Oxford and Lafayette School District reported 714 students absent due to illness, according to the Oxford Eagle.
“If someone has missed for the flu, I’m going to help them get back up to speed with the class when they get back,” graphic design instructor Dennis Irwin said. “Also, I won’t count illness against a student.”
Instructor Kristen Walker teaches two levels of intensive French classes at the university. Her students meet every day and receive six hours of credit for the classes.
“I have had two students out with the flu. As long as they send me a doctor’s excuse — and both of them did — I am happy to excuse their absence,” Walker said. “I would want to work with them to make sure they feel good about the material they missed while they were out.”
Sophomore integrated marketing communications major Chloe Bardon said she felt sick Wednesday and went to the RedMed Urgent Clinic on Jackson Avenue. Doctors at the clinic sent her away because they claimed she had come in too soon to test positive for the flu. They sent her home with antibiotics and a negative flu test, but Bardon ultimately did test positive. She was prescribed Tamiflu and is still recovering while going to class.
“I missed a test, but thankfully, my teacher said he would take my next test grade and double it. I was lucky enough to have my school work not get in the way,” Bardon said.
Claire Sanderson is a fitness program assistant at the Turner Center. She said Turner Center employees have recently seen a decrease in attendance and participation but cannot be sure that is flu related.
“We have not changed our cleaning routines or cleaning products, but we have really been diligent about wiping down all surfaces and machines and cleaning even more frequently,” Sanderson said.