CHICAGO (CBS) — Epilepsy, cerebral palsy, and a lung condition are just some of the health issues one 9-year-old Chicago boy battles.
But despite notes from his doctor stating the boy is medically fragile and high risk for COVID-19, the Chicago Public Schools said he cannot attend classes virtually.READ MORE: Teen, 15, Shot In The Loop
CBS 2’s Tim McNicholas looked into the rigid requirements affecting him and hundreds of others.
The boy, Mason, knows a thing or two about challenges.
“I’ve overcome a lot of things,” he said.
His mom, Laurel Hensen, said he battles a myriad of medical conditions.
“He has epilepsy, cerebral palsy, a floppy airway,” Hensen said.
In the latest challenge, Mason is getting homeschooled by his mom while she juggles a full-time job.
They applied for the Chicago Public Schools Virtual Academy, and Mason’s doctor signed a form for them, explaining Mason’s “likelihood of severe complications from COVID.” But CPS denied the application, saying Mason “does not meet the requirements of eligibility for medically fragile status.”READ MORE: CTA Bus Driver Beaten Near Millennium Park
“I said, ‘I want to know who denied this – what was their reason for denying this?’ and I heard nothing,” Hensen said.
She said if Mason went to school and caught COVID there, the consequences would be very serious.
“If he was to contract COVID and spike a fever, he would be intubated pretty fast,” she said.
The district describes the Virtual Academy as a “fully remote learning option” for students who “qualify as medically fragile.” But we heard from several other families who are frustrated by denials – despite their doctors supporting their claim.
Many of them were confused about why they got denied and called on CPS to relax their rules.
“The virtual academy is there. It’s already set up. Why would you deny parents who had an M.D. sign off on something?” Hensen said. “It just doesn’t make any sense to me.”
Mason pounded his fist on the table for emphasis as he added: “This is unfair for the kids that got denied. They need to go to Virtual Academy.”
Now, Hensen pays a tutor to help out a couple hours per day. She says it’s all she can do to help him keep up.MORE NEWS: Oak Park And River Forest High School Ban On Activities Due To COVID Outbreak Sparks Outrage
The Chicago Public Schools told us that there is no set limit as to how many students can attend Virtual Academy. Yet, 356 students who applied were denied access to the program.