Students at a high school in California will now need to think twice about saying Bless You when a classmate sneezes.
A health teacher recently punished several students at William C. Wood High School in Vacaville (near San Francisco) for saying the common expression.
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 evil spirits, teacher Steve Cuckovich explained to ABC.
But today, I said, what you're doing doesn't really make any sense anymore, he added.
Cuckovich is a father of three with two grandkids and one on the way, according to his Twitter account.
Those who said Bless You in his classroom received an automatic 25 point deduction from their grade, even though the school does not agree with the punishment.
A district superintendent spoke on the issue for the first time on Friday.
Vacaville Unified's Administration is continuing its investigation of this reported classroom disruption. 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, Dr. John Niederkorn said in a statement.
The teacher believed that students were dramatically sneezing and responding in repetitive fashion, 'Bless You,' Niederkorn said.
Parents of William C. Wood High School students have also been furious about the situation.
I can see where teenagers can be disruptive. It's not something unknown . . . when he says 'When you say, God, bless you,' and he's using that specific terminology to say, 'I'm docking you points,' that concerns me, parent Vickie Fagan told a local ABC affiliate.
Cuckovich claimed his policy had nothing to do with religion.