At UF, there is an official policy in place for dealing with students with swine flu: Since Gators are generally hardy creatures, the university is instructing people with "typical" symptoms just to stay home and ride the thing out, rather than trudge to the student health center and risk passing the bug on to others on campus.
This, of course, makes total sense. But it is making life a living hell for faculty. Why? Because we can no longer require documentation for extended absences—and as was always the case, are not allowed to penalize students who've been legitimately ill. We're just supposed to trust that people who disappear for weeks on end are actually sick, and not flaking off. Even UF's student newspaper recognizes that this policy is ripe for abuse.
Already, one of my TAs came to my office nearly in tears, saying that she's been swamped by a deluge of three-week's-overdue assignments from random people who never told her they were sick. But now they're all claiming (possibly retroactive) swine flu. And apart from monitoring the Facebook pages of each of my 150 students to see if any good parties coincided with their absences, there's Nothing. I. Can Do. Grrr.
I can't do anything about lazy shmucks ditching my classes. But I can keep you honest. (And yes, I taking my totally non-birding-related frustration out on you.) So I'm giving you all a pop quiz: Take out a pencil and your copy of Sibley and answer the following question:
This is a photo Glenn took at Cedar Key on Sunday. There are at least three Plover species represented in this shot.
What are they?
Get to work, people!