Teacher bans "bless you" in class. Parents, sneezers revolt!

Don't even think about blessing this kid if you're in health class at one Vacaville high school. (ThinkStock Photos)
Don't even think about blessing this kid if you're in health class at one Vacaville high school. (ThinkStock Photos)

In one high school classroom, sneezinghas consequences. Up until Thursday, any time a student in a Vacaville, California health class responded to a sneeze with "bless you", they'd get point deducted from their assignment grade. It's a controversial classroom measure thatteacherSteve Cucovich is willing to take to break kids of the 'b ' word.

[More controversial school policies and punishments plotted by teachers]

What's so bad about "bless you?"

"The blessing doesn't make any sense anymore," Cuckovich said in an interview with local news. "When you sneezed in the old days, they thought you were dispelling evil spirits out of your 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."

Beyond being outdated, Cuckovich sees the response as a classroom disruption, not a courtesy. According to his account, students were sneezing and blessing each other "dramatically" as a kind of lesson-halting inside joke. His ban wasn't based on religious views but rather an attempt to regain some control over the room.

His policy still didn't sit well with some of Bay Area parents of students in his class. After fielding complains that his policy was "anti-religious", Cuckovich agreed not to penalize the kids. But he's holding firm to his no "bless you" rule. If you're wondering, "Gesundheit" is also on the chopping block.

The issue has now gone all the way up to John Niederkorn, superintendent of the school district, who's now deciding "whether a series of these repeated remarks by several students constitutes freedom of speech or a classroom disruption."

How about if someone has a cold? All hijinks and religious debates aside, it's always nice to get a heartfelt "bless you" (or the atheist-friendly adaptation, "bleshew") when you're feeling under the weather. It's like saying, "So sorry you're sick-I really hope you feel better!" only faster and with slightly less earnestness. Can you imagine if we had to say all that every time someone sneezed? Don't get any ideas, kids in Mr. Cuckovich's class...

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