While it may not be the Black Plague, it might as well feel like it. Seemingly no one was spared this past month as students, faculty, and staff all took a blow (sometimes into a tissue) and experienced the lasting punch in the gut of those pesky little bacteria that, even though we cannot see, can hit harder than Connor McGregor.
It was very apparent that something was running through the halls of Prep, and students and teachers alike were taking notice. “There’s something about constant kids coughing, sneezing, and practically dying right next to you, that can distract you from your school work,” said junior Nathan Shookalook.
This became very clear as attendance at Prep began to decline rapidly. If it wasn’t you, it was a classmate as the classrooms looked like abandoned California gold rush boom towns. “Teaching through this was a struggle,” said Spanish teacher Ms. McElhinny. “I have guys making up tests and turning in homework sometimes as much as two weeks late.”
Even gym classes felt the butt of the blow. “Handball teams were torn apart, and we would spend almost a third of our class time trying to reassemble them. It was as frustrating for me as it was for the students,” commented Coach G on the illness running rampant through the halls of Prep.
Head swimming coach Mike Doyle was not happy with vital pieces of his team missing. In two home meets at the aquatics center he had to change the lineup over three times as his swimmers were not able to compete.
The days seemed darker, and at one point it seemed like it was only a matter of time before the inevitable happened. No amount of hand washing, vitamins, and hydration could save us. I myself got sick with the flu, even though I was vaccinated. I was able to talk with Steve Ferretti who works at UMPC Hamot and he didn’t have a whole lot of good news to share with me. “It’s been a rough year for everyone. We have been seeing a lot more patients than we normally do. There are a lot of nasty bugs going around this year, mostly attacking the respiratory system and shutting people down,” he said.
Northwestern Pennsylvania, which is used to experiencing longer, dryer, and colder winters have helped subdue the micro-organisms that make us sick but the short spans of cold air, and uncharacteristic warm temperatures have allowed them to thrive.
In the past week it seems like the worst is behind us, as more and more consistent, fuller classrooms and hallways are a clear indication that sunnier days are ahead. Many teachers are scrambling to resupply after this. Tissue boxes and GermX were on short supply after the last month of wheezing and sneezing. Mr. Baltzer proudly displayed his “DoomsDay” supply of tissue boxes that still towered in the back of his 2nd floor classroom. “Last Christmas I had students bring in tissue boxes for bonus points. I ended up getting a lot more than expected,” he said. With this years flu season still in full swing, make sure to stay healthy and wash your hands.