SACRAMENTO (CBS) — A Northern California teacher is at the center of controversy after imposing penalties on his students for saying “bless you” in response to sneezing in his classroom.
Teacher Steve Cuckovich at Will C. Wood high school in Vacaville said the common courtesy is disrespectful and disruptive to classroom activity — but insists the ban has nothing to do with religion.
“When you sneeze, 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 the evil spirits,” said Cuckovich. “But today, I said, ‘Really what you’re doing doesn’t make any sense anymore’.”
Cuckovich started off the new school year by docking a student 25 points for saying the phrase in response to a sneeze.
Some parents were less than receptive to the new measure.
“Everybody has the right to their own beliefs, but they don’t have rights to impose those beliefs on other people, especially not school children,” said parent Alan Johnson.
The school’s principal has stated that the disciplinary measure will not be tolerated.