And then … back to school
There are adaptations that can be made to help a sick pupil continue education. They will not all be applicable to every pupil; therefore, just consider them as possible interventions.
A deteriorating or poor physical condition may be a consequence of the illness itself or may be caused by the treatment or use of medication. A sick pupil may be uncertain about changes in capability or looks and therefore feel unable to face their classmates. Adaptations in education can lower the threshold for returning to school. It is important to inform classmates about the reason for the adaptations. This prevents the sick pupil from feeling stress or pressure and classmates from feeling neglected.
It is possible to make adaptations concerning mobility. The pupil can use alternative means of transport to travel to school, for instance. When at school, some extra aids to increase mobility could be to give the pupil a key to the elevator, to give him or her more time to move between classrooms or to make sure that all lessons take place on the ground floor. It may also help the pupil to have an extra set of textbooks.
Adaptations in the classroom
In the classroom, you could change where the sick pupil sits to improve concentration or well-being. Sometimes, doing schoolwork is less important than attending school, and contact with classmates has priority. In such cases, it may be preferable to have your pupil work in small groups or pairs.
Whether the pupil studies full-time or part-time, at school or at home, curriculum adaptations are often necessary. For example, adaptations may be made to the timetable, course duration, teaching material and tests. An individual curriculum will prevent the pupil from lagging behind.
Caring for the sick pupil
A sick pupil may tire quickly, which may manifest itself in PE, for example. Secondary school pupils may obtain dispensation for PE. However, PE is not only a physical but also a social activity. By giving the pupil other tasks, such as being referee or acting as the teacher’s right hand, he or she remains involved with the class. He may also participate in those parts of the lesson that he is able to join in with.
You may request additional support if your pupil needs support with general daily vital functions, like eating or going to the toilet.
If the sick pupil is required to eat at different times or take medication at set moments you may, after consulting the sick pupil, inform the classmates. This prevents the pupil from feeling embarrassed and the classmates from feeling neglected.
IT tools in education are now widely developed and may present a good alternative to, or complement, other changes in the curriculum or timetable. By using IT tools, a sick pupil can keep in touch with his classmates, for example through a webcam, video film or IT programme for long-distance learning. This allows him or her to participate in school life from a distance. The main reason for using these tools is therefore to encourage social contact. By using a long-distance learning IT programme such as KlasseContact, it is also possible to attend lessons at home or in hospital.