Central Coast Cough


Melih Cevik

Teachers taking attendance have noticed that more students have had illness than before.

Across the nation, there has been a noticeable increase in respiratory illnesses. The “tripledemic” has impacted public health on a State level, and among medical professionals here on the Central Coast. Arroyo Grande High School is not immune to this situation. Staff members in the health and attendance offices have seen increased workloads as a result. 

The health office at Arroyo Grande has seen an increase in the number of students with illnesses.

The health office, according to lead nurse Cameron Epley, “responds to every emergency on campus… providing emergency medical needs and triaging students properly.” 

As a result, staff has been able to have a frontline view of the increasing number of unwell students. 

“For the most part, going into this season of the year in school, [health] providers see during the colder months of the year increases in flu, colds [and] cough,” Epley said.

The Health Office at AGHS is the first place where students who are ill will be evaluated. (Melih Cevik)

Epley added that there is a variation in the intensity of such illnesses, that while some students can return to their class after they visit the health office, other students remain absent for two to three days or even a week. 

A rise in illnesses also increases the workload for those in the attendance office. Dawn Lewis, the attendance technician is responsible for recording the attendance, and classifying every student absent. While there are numerous different kinds of absences, Lewis noted that “the vast majority of absences are going to be illness, medical-related from a parent, or doctors or dentist.”

Since the beginning of the school year, AGHS has seen its average daily attendance, as a percentage, continue to decrease.

Since the beginning of the school year, AGHS has seen a decrease in average daily attendance as a percentage. (Melih Cevik)

“The last couple of attendance months have been lower than they were at the start of the year,” Lewis said. She added that during the attendance month of December, AGHS had an average daily attendance of 87 percent of students, an eight percent decrease from the beginning of the school year. 

As students learn of the additional work their absences impose on staff, Epley and Lewis highlighted numerous things that can be done to reduce the chances of illnesses and absences.  

“The quickest way is to reply to the absence notification that goes out,” Lewis said. However, leaving a voicemail or emailing attendance are alternative ways to notify of an absence. 

  However, when students are absent, certain steps can be taken to increase the efficiency in classifying absences. 

“The number one combatant in fighting disease and infection is washing your hands,” Epley said. He went on to say that covering your cough with your elbow rather than your hands, or nothing at all, maintaining a healthy diet, alongside sufficient exercise and sleep will greatly contribute to students staying healthy.