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"We would be concerned sending him to school": How OK universities will cater to high-risk students

Posted at 5:03 PM, Jul 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-30 19:51:15-04

SKIATOOK, Okla. — “He would always be sick. We would be concerned sending him to school,” Brandy Marion said as she reminisced about the first five years of her son’s life.

“When you look at Jake, he looks very healthy and robust and he is, except for the fact he has this pneumococcal deficiency,” Brandy said.

21-year-old Jake Marion was born healthy but could not breathe properly for the first five years of life.

“Nobody could really figure out what it was in that five years,” Jake said. “We had, ‘Oh, his esophagus is loose,’ or ‘Oh, it’s just this disease.’”

“They did an MRI and found out the middle lobe of his right lung never developed. Basically, it was spewing bacteria into his body,” Brandy said.

“Because it never developed, I have pneumococcal deficiency, which, basically, puts me more at risk of pneumococcal pneumonia and pretty much every respiratory symptom and disease out there,” Jake said.

“When COVID came, we basically locked Jake up out here at the lake,” Brandy joked. “We didn’t want him going out.”

Gaming is one of Jake's outlets. Disinfectants and masks are his best friends.

“Anywhere I go, I wipe down handlebars on shopping carts. I wipe my hands when I get back in the car,” Jake said as he pulled the products out. “The only way this is going to get under control is if everybody wears masks and takes all the precautions.”

Jake is a senior at University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma studying psychology. He hopes to help people through therapy.

He said, “I love all my friends at university. I love everyone that goes to the university, but when you pack us all in there, it’s very more likely that we’re going to get it [COVID-19].”

Jake still has not heard what his school has planned for the fall.

“I’m hoping to see that we stay online because it’s not safe to go back,” Jake said.

USAO is offering a variety of hybrid, in-person, and online courses. Everyone on campus is required to mask up. The same is also true for Oral Roberts University and Tulsa Community College.

The University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University prepare for in-person instruction this fall with mask mandates. OSU has an application process for students needing accommodation. An OU representative has not responded with an answer on what the first day will look like for high-risk Sooners who worry just like Jake and his family about what the coronavirus is capable of.

“I believe that if Jake caught the virus, we would be in the hospital for many many days," Brandy said. "I would be very worried that it could kill him.”

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