Newcastle student left bedridden by long Covid celebrates A-level results

Jake Zibe, from Newcastle, got Covid in his very first week of Year 12 and missed months of school because of the long-term effects. Credit: Dame Allan's Schools

A teenager who was left bedridden by long Covid and had to cram his A-level studies into a single year is celebrating earning a place at university.

Jake Zibe, from Newcastle, got Covid in his very first week of Year 12.

He was left bedridden, experiencing breathing difficulties and on steroids and saw his attendance at Dame Allan's Schools plummet to below 50% as he tried to overcome the long-term effects of the virus.

Despite his ongoing struggles with the condition, Jake, from Gosforth, achieved A B C in Biology, Geography, and Maths and has accepted a place at Sheffield Hallam to study Computer Science.

The 18-year-old said: “When I tested positive for Covid it didn’t affect me hugely, other than a cough and a change in my sense of taste, and I assumed I’d be back in the classroom relatively quickly. But instead of recovering, I started having gastrointestinal problems and extreme fatigue. I ended up completely bedridden, on steroids and other medication, and unable to return to school for months.

“Even when I was able to slowly return to school on some days, I had zero energy and struggled to stay awake and focused during lessons; the moment I’d get home I’d sleep for hours. The fatigue lasted for months on end and still affects me now.”

Jake’s impeccable school attendance record plummeted in his first year in Sixth Form and he faced having to retake the year.

“Missing so much of Year 12 and being bedridden meant I had huge gaps in my knowledge that affected my ability to understand and learn subsequent topics. I also developed brain fog and would often forget things I’d only recently been told,” said Jake.

“I was faced with the stark reality of having to retake Year 12 but felt determined not to let the condition rob me of a year of my life. With Dame Allan’s support, I did all I could to catch up over the summer holiday before starting Year 13 and then received extra lunchtime and after-school tuition, which was a huge help.”

Jake admits the condition had a significant impact on his mental health as well as his studies. “There were some low times when I was unable to get out of bed, just lying in the darkness and in pain. I missed getting physical exercise and seeing friends, it was like being in the toughest lockdown all over again,” he said.

Now well on the road to recovery, Jake has recently been interrailing across Europe and is excited about the future.

He said: “I’m proud of myself today. My results are proof that despite the challenges I faced, I was still able to achieve good grades with hard work and the support of those around me.

“I feel even more determined to enjoy every moment of my university years and make up for the time I lost to coronavirus.”

Will Scott, principal at Dame Allan’s Schools, said: “The pandemic had already impacted Jake’s GCSE years, with home learning enforced during lockdown and exams cancelled, so for the virus to then have such a devastating effect on his health and wellbeing during his A-Level years was exceptionally difficult for him.

“However, Jake has shown incredible strength of character and worked exceptionally hard for today’s results; he should feel very proud of himself. His focus and determination to succeed will serve him well in life.”

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