Teen with heart issue unable to return to school due to COVID-19 risk

While many parents are considering which route to take for their kids’ education this fall, the decision has already been made for one Mountain Pine teen.

MOUNTAIN PINE, Ark. — Parents will be faced with a choice this fall while many school districts are announcing optional learning, including blended in-class learning or online learning.

But, some parents are already deciding their kids must stay home.

“I won’t get to see my friends until possibly the next semester,” said Thomas Lobbs, a 10th grader at Mountain Pine High School.

The ’20-’21 school year hasn’t even begun and Thomas Lobbs already knows he can’t return to the classroom.

“He had a heart transplant nearly eight years ago,” said Laci Lobbs, Thomas’ mother.

At his latest heart check-up, Thomas’ team of doctors revealed some concerning issues.

Normally, these wouldn’t be a problem to continue his daily life, but with COVID-19 on the rise, doctors and school staff say returning to school is too risky for Thomas.

“Normally, I’m okay with it. But I was shocked this time because of how concerning it is,” said Lobbs.

The Lobb’s family is now working to adjust by preparing their home for a school environment, while Mountain Pine Schools is working closely with Thomas to ensure he will continue to succeed.

“We are trying to be as prepared as we can, and be as flexible as possible with all of our students,” said Sheila Gadberry, Mountain Pine High School counselor.

Thomas will have to miss out on school activities, too.

He’s a member of Special Olympics and the school’s marching band, but his mother says the school district is rallying behind her son.

“It’s heartbreaking because I know he wants to see his friends and participate in Special Olympics,” said Lobbs. “But the administrators have been great, and the band director told us he’s still part of the band, and if he can come to a game and sit in the stands or sit-in at a concert, he’s more than welcome to.”

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