A Newcastle student whose attendance dropped below 50 per cent due to the crippling effects of long Covid was today praised for his hard work and commitment when he returned to school to collect his A Level results.
Jake Zibe, from Gosforth, contracted Coronavirus on the very first week of Year 12 at Dame Allan’s Schools and was left bedridden, experiencing breathing difficulties, and on steroids as his body fought to overcome the long-term effects of the virus.
Despite his ongoing struggles with the condition, which include extreme fatigue and muscle loss, Jake, 18, achieved A B C in Biology, Geography, and Maths and has accepted a place at Sheffield Hallam to study Computer Science.
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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!”
When Jake first contracted Covid in September 2021 he had very few symptoms and continued with his school studies while isolating at home, remaining in contact with his teachers and present during lessons at Dame Allan’s via Google Meet.
Jake 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 at 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 at Dame Allan’s, a Fenham-based collection of independent schools, plummeted in his first year in Sixth Form and he even 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.
His experience of long Covid has changed his outlook on life. Now well on the road to recovery, Jake has recently been interrailing across Europe with friends 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.”