As more and more children contract COVID-19, more will also develop “long COVID,” a constellation of health problems experienced after contracting the virus. A recent study found that nearly 6% of infected children develop long COVID. It is difficult to know exact percentages, as children may have trouble describing their symptoms and more studies are needed.
According to the CDC, long COVID can cause an array of symptoms, such as:
- difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- cough and chest pain
- fast heart rate or other cardiac complications
- difficulty thinking or concentrating
- sleep problems
- depression or anxiety
- digestive symptoms
- joint or muscle pain
- autoimmune conditions
People who have recovered from COVID-19 may also be at greater risk of developing diabetes or kidney damage.
These symptoms may impact a child’s functioning at school or require care while at school. Accordingly, students with long COVID have legal protections. The US Department of Education has issued guidance clarifying that long COVID may qualify as a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). This means that students with long COVID may be eligible for an IEP, a 504 plan, or an individualized health care plan at school. Public schools need to be ready to identify and provide services and supports to students with new-onset disabilities resulting from COVID-19 on an ongoing basis.