Aberdeen family pushes to have immunocompromised daughter on remote learning as pandemic continues
There's a growing minority of families in New Jersey who want their school districts to provide an option for remote learning as kids have returned to in-person learning during the pandemic.
One Aberdeen family with a child who is immunocompromised says going back to school with the threat of COVID-19 could be a matter of life or death.
School started on Sept. 9, but Riley Nolan hasn't returned to her classes to see her friends and teachers. She wants to, but as long as COVID-19 is potentially in the school hallways, she can't.
The 9-year-old has been confined to her house with her brother Thomas while her classmates have returned to the Lloyd Street School.
STATE OF OUR SCHOOLS: Back-to-school resources
"In Riley's case, she's immune suppressed. She's had a liver transplant and she's had 38 operations," says her father, Tom Nolan.
When she was 4 months old, she had that liver transplant. She is currently on two anti-rejection medications and now she needs infusions to deal with a form of colitis.
"We've seen the flu put Riley in the hospital, we've seen a stomach virus bring Riley within inches of her life," Tom Nolan says.
Until she's eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine, her mother and father say sending her to school with only a mask as defense is not safe.
EXPLAINER: The CDC's new mask guidelines
"I'm scared to let them out until they're vaccinated," says her mother, Stacey Nolan.
Standing in the way of her virtual learning is the state mandate ending that practice.
Gov. Phil Murphy has long referred to the "learning loss" that students suffered due to virtual learning as reason for getting kids back in school buildings.
Virtual leaning also forces parents to stay home, which some argue led to a labor shortage and economic loss.
However, Executive Order 175 does allow for the immune compromised to be remote.
So far, the Matawan-Aberdeen Aberdeen school board has agreed to provide some help.
Her updated IEP says, "Riley will receive 10 hours a week of home instruction virtually and her related services virtually."
Tom Nolan says it's a start, but more is needed.
"Which is better than nothing, but it's not better than a full day of virtual learning. We don't have a timetable on when it's starting," he says.
That plan doesn't take into account Thomas who they also want to learn remotely.
"Yes, I want to be virtual because I want to keep Riley safe," her brother Thomas Nolan says.
The Nolans are not alone. There is a petition called New Jersey Parents for Virtual Choice gaining some steam.
Over 30 states are providing some form of remote option in some areas.
If the situation becomes desperate, the Nolan's may have to think about moving.
"Pennsylvania offers it. It's only an hour away. I work in Manhattan. In a worst-case scenario, that's something we have to do," Tom Nolan says.
The Nolans are running out of options.
They don't really want to move in this case and there is one other option they need to consider.
Doctors say it is very possible that the COVID-10 vaccine will not actually work for Riley Nolan because it all depends on how she tests out.
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