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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

RSV impacts students, staff for semester end

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The Collegian logo

campus editor

The arrival of a respiratory illness has once again called into question the safety of children and the public.

With the semester coming to an end and the cold arriving just in time for the preparation of finals, maintaining grades and taking care of one’s health can be quite the balancing act.

While illnesses like the cold and flu are going around, RSV, or Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infection, is causing an influx of patients in children’s hospitals, creating a potential obstacle for students with children.

“This is a problem for the students that have small children at home, and for the classroom teachers that are taking care of the young children in the Children’s Center,” NE Child Center MSTR teacher Barbara Smith said.

Focusing on school work while having a sick child can be difficult, especially when one needs reliable child care to attend classes.

“Students with children may struggle if their child gets diagnosed with RSV because of lack of child care for a sick child and or accompanying parental illness,” TR associate nursing professor Alison Carmona said.

Carmona said what RSV is and why it can be specifically dangerous for children.

“RSV is a cold virus, but it produces a lot of thick mucus and boogers, and that affects children under 2 with small airways much more significantly than bigger children and adults,” she said.

Although NE Child Center hasn’t had many RSV cases, the incubation period is something the staff is well aware of.

“We have not had many children diagnosed with RSV at the Children’s Center; however, we have been told that if a child is diagnosed with RSV, they can be contagious for 3 to 8 days,” Smith said.

In order to keep students and their children healthy at NE Child Center, precautions are in place.

“We recommend that the parents have their children tested for COVID, Influenza, and Strep when we send them home from school with a high fever,” Smith said.

With many getting sick this fall, Carmona said ER staffs’ have been struggling to tend to all of their patients.

“The high number of children visiting the ER is causing a strain on a healthcare system that is already struggling,” she said. “In 2021, around 100,000 nurses left the workforce, the largest decline in over 40 years.”

Surges of sick people in hospitals can not only be stressful for nurses, but may make it difficult for them to take care of themselves as well.

“Personally, so many of the nurses I know and work with are struggling, especially those in the Emergency Department,” Carmona said.  “Many nurses are missing their breaks and lunches, and sometimes there is not enough time to stop and breathe before the next sick patient comes through the door.”

Aside from the stress of having a sick child, students can have a hard time overcoming their own illnesses and staying on track in classes.

“I think that being sick in college is probably one of the hardest [things] to bounce back from, if the teacher isn’t helpful or you just don’t know people,” SE student Abi Cliff said.

Preparing students for finals can also mean more assignments and studying.

“Having finals around the corner – so much information is piled onto us,” she said. “Just missing one lecture can set you back really far if it’s just a lecture-based class.”

It can be important for students to remember that experiencing stress is normal, and that some staff understand this. 

“I think most of our students are stressed about their grades right now,” Carmona said. “The semester is coming to an end and this is a natural feeling.”

Cliff said how she thinks we can keep each other healthy.

“I think we can help prevent sickness by staying home if you aren’t feeling well, wearing a mask or a face protector, and constantly washing your hands or using hand sanitizer to kill germs,” Cliff said.

Carmona said what she’d say to a student who’s sick or has a sick child, and is experiencing stress when it comes to maintaining their grades.

“So many times as a professor, when things are going wrong with students, I could have helped, but most of my students don’t reach out to me and I can’t help if I don’t know,” Carmona said.

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