The simple courtesy of saying “bless you” after a person sneezes has become a disciplinary offense at William C. Wood High School in California. The teacher, who issued the penalty, has spoken out about his decision to punish students who dare utter the words.
“The blessing doesn’t make any sense anymore,” health teacher Steve Cuckovich told Fox affiliate, FOX40, in Sacramento.
According to Cuckovich, in the “old days” the belief was that sneezing was a way to drive evil spirits out of a person’s body.
“So they were saying, 'God bless you,' for getting rid of evil spirits. But today, what you're doing doesn't really make any sense,” he added.
Cuckovich deducted 25 points from a student’s grade in an attempt to deter other teens attending the Vacaville, Calif., high school from saying “bless you.”
Talking of any kind takes away from class time and is disruptive the strict teacher claimed.
The school district issued a statement on the matter Thursday. Superintendent John Niederkorn said:
“The teacher believed that students were dramatically sneezing and responding in repetitive fashion “Bless You”. One of the concerns is the social convention of saying “Gesundheit”, “God Bless You”, or “Bless You” after someone sneezes.
Of question is whether a series of these repeated remarks by several students constitutes freedom of speech or a classroom disruption and merits student discipline.
We are reviewing the impact of this disruption and the student grading policy. Certainly a blessing by one individual to another after a sneeze is a welcomed acknowledgement of a social norm. Hopefully it is not abused as a disruption of classroom instructional activities."
Cuckovich’s new grading policy shocked students.
“Man, you gonna lose points if you say bless you in the classroom. Man, that's messed up," one student, told FOX40 outside after school on Tuesday.
It has also outraged parents.
"I think that's ridiculous. First, the Pledge of Allegiance. Now, preventing a kid from saying, 'Bless You?'" said parent Alan Johnson.