June 24, 2021


Students who have three-hour lectures or longer may be finding it a pain. Literally.

Teenagers today are complaining about sore backs now more than ever. Scoliosis, a common back issue in which your spine has a curve, has become a serious issue in children and teenagers who are still growing. Some cases are only minor and the curvature of the spine can be 10 degrees or less, but in severe cases the degree will continue to get worse. It is found more often in females and one in 10 people who have it will need correctional surgery.

Does Conestoga College provide for students who have issues like this, or something similar?

John Anderson, who works in the Occupational Safety office, said he doesn’t normally receive complaints from students regarding discomfort caused by furnishings or equipment. He said the job of the staff is to ensure the school is up to code with the Health and Safety Act. But he agreed most staff and students are sitting for long periods at a time. “Workers who have duties that are primarily at a computer workstation and are in a seated position for extended periods of time are most at risk. Alternating tasks, positions and taking micro-breaks are methods that reduce the risk.”

Students who sit in three-hour lectures admitted that it definitely takes a toll after a while on their body. Madison Fennell, a first-year student in pre-health sciences, said she gets very uncomfortable. “I end up losing focus on what’s going on in the lecture because all I’m thinking about is ways to take the discomfort away.”

She suggested maybe having cushions for some classrooms that have harder chairs, but every classroom is different and the cost might be too high. “Chairs in the D-wing are terribly uncomfortable. The chairs in F-wing are great,” said Janet Mannella, manager of the Occupational Safety office. “But I have not had any student requiring accommodation with sitting.”

Another student, Meghan Fennell, who is in her third year in practical nursing, also suggested having cushions in certain classrooms, but said it might be too expensive. “More breaks might be necessary too for longer classes so we aren’t stuck sitting for hours at a time,” she said. “I definitely focus more on how uncomfortable I am in lectures. I try to find ways to rid the pain in my back or legs.”

When asked if he had suggestions for students on how to be more comfortable in class, Anderson said they should practise proper posture while in a seated position and try to find several different positions to alternate between. “Incorporate some stretching when required to sit for extended periods,” he said. “For students who do have issues with back or hips when seated in class, I would refer them to Accessibility Services and a physician. Proper posture early in their career would be beneficial long term.”

Are students too afraid to admit that they’re uncomfortable in class? As rates in scoliosis continue to increase in young adults, will the school start to receive more complaints? If you do have an issue and need to talk to someone about it, Accessibility Services is always available for students with medical or accessibility issues.

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