Blythedale Children’s Hospital teaches students throughout pandemic

Michael Uyaguari, 12, attends year-round in-person school at Blythedale Children’s Hospital in Valhalla.

The sixth-grader was diagnosed with a brain tumor at nine months old causing paralysis. Michael is also legally blind which makes it nearly impossible for him to learn on a computer. 

"He’s not able to see unless it’s large print, said Rosa Cajamarca, Michael's mother. "With classes on the computer its not good enough for people to see it."

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Michael was only online for a few months before Blythedale brought all students back to class and occupational therapy sessions last summer. The school helps students with special needs and disabilities. 

There’s been little exposure to COVID at Blythedale, no closures, and very few cases. Blythedale’s Chief Medical Officer says their approach could serve as a model for school districts across the country.

"We learned early on what worked," said Dr. Scott Klein, the Chief Medical Officer at Blythedale. "Keep people safe, our own staff safe on the hospital side. What we found with the school is children and teachers were more at risk in their own communities of getting COVID rather than the building of the school."

Michael, meanwhile, is learning at a faster rate than he ever has. Even in a pandemic.