Almost a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, amid daily reminders to stay home when feeling ill, students at Salt Lake Community College have had to change their perspectives on pushing through sickness.
Over the past year, SLCC students have weighed the risk of potentially spreading illnesses versus having to stay home and miss out on wages and valued social interaction. Though instructors may be more understanding about absences, the decision to stay home is complex.
Briana Franco, a film technician major, recalled feeling like she had to push through illnesses to show up for her responsibilities before the pandemic.
“Now it’s nice, I can stay home and rest,” said Franco, noting she doesn’t worry as much about getting behind or leaving her workplace understaffed if she is not feeling well.
Instructors have been understanding towards absences and encourage their students to take a day off if they are sick, Franco said.
For Alan Hinojos, a film technician major, deciding to stay home is not that simple. Staying home, he explained, might mean missing out on vital income.
“You’d rather not skip a day of work because you need that check,” Hinojos said. “That extra money is going to help you out in the long run.”
Hinojos also noted the decision to self-isolate might also take a toll on a person’s mental health because of the loss of interaction with others.
It is a sentiment echoed by Whitney Ockey, the health promotions manager for SLCC’s Center for Health and Counseling, who said the pandemic has created concerns for students’ physical and mental health.
The pandemic, Ockey said, has “generated a homebody environment,” due to so many aspects of life being moved online.
Long periods of time without social engagement can take a real toll, Ockey said, noting that staying home to avoid exposing others to illness is different than staying home to avoid life’s realities like school and work.
Ockey advised students to put effort into being aware of their physical and mental needs to remain healthy.
The Center for Health and Counseling is open at the Taylorsville campus and offers massage therapy, medical and counseling services. Due to the pandemic, the center is also currently waiving session and cancellation fees, according to its website. In-person and virtual appointments can be booked by calling 801-957-4268.