Class of COVID-19

Listen 49:13
An illustration of an anxious student trying to read and focus in school while thinking about coronavirus

How are kids dealing with the added pressures caused by the coronavirus pandemic? (illustration by Kaitlyn Rodriguez)

Fall usually means the start of a new school year — but for millions of American kids, it marks the continuation of an extended limbo that’s come to define their lives. With the pandemic, uncertainty, upended routines, and constant change have come to replace the usual hallmarks of growing up — from school plays and sports, to proms and graduations. And then there are the smaller moments: hangouts with friends, birthday parties, and first crushes. How is all this affecting kids? On this episode, we explore what it’s like to grow up in the shadow of COVID-19, and how kids are dealing with the added pressures. We hear stories about what it’ll take to return safely to school, what kinds of (life) lessons kids miss when learning goes online, and some of the unexpected ways the virus is affecting children’s health.

Also heard on this week’s episode:

  • When Victoria Marsh tested positive for COVID-19, her mother, Karen, was beside herself with worry. Victoria has osteosarcoma, a kind of bone cancer that requires immunity-busting treatments like chemotherapy. Without a healthy immune system, Karen worried, her daughter would be subject to the ravages of COVID-19. But as it turns out, immunocompromised kids might not be as vulnerable as everyone expected. Liz Tung reports.
  • We talk with Adam Ratner, the director of pediatric infectious diseases at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone, about MIS-C — a rare condition that affects some children in the wake of COVID-19.
  • One of the biggest disruptions in lives of children during this pandemic has been the transition from in-person to online classes. After months of missing school — will students bounce back? And who are the students in need of extra support and attention this fall? We discuss learning loss with Megan Kuhfeld, a senior research scientist at NWEA in Portland, Oregon.
  • The pandemic has brought just about everything to a screeching halt — including many of the time-honored traditions that high school seniors have been looking forward to since freshman year. Trinity Hunt, a student reporter, brings together her two best friends, Jackson and Ivanka (online, of course), to share their hopes and fears on how COVID-19 will affect their senior year.
  • This episode was produced in collaboration with students from WHYY’s Pathways to Media Careers Youth Employment Program, with support from The Lenfest Foundation, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and Bank of America. Our student reporters were Sammy Sacksith, Kaitlyn Rodriguez, and Trinity Hunt. Special thanks to instructors Gabriel Setright and Becca Morgan for their help and guidance.

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