‘COVID Tore My Family Up’: Ninth Grade Student At Green Street Academy On Life Support After Contracting COVID-19, Mother Also Hospitalized

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Fifteen-year-old Justin Sykes is in the ninth grade at Green Street Academy.

But as of Friday afternoon, his grandmother, Barbara Thomas, said he’s at Johns Hopkins Hospital, on life support. And his mother is across town at Harbor Hospital, also fighting COVID-19. The family believes it started with an outbreak at Sykes’ school.

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“COVID tore my family up,” said Tanika Gaskins, Sykes’ Aunt. She said Sykes is not doing well. “He’s not even breathing on his own. And we can’t even visit him, that’s the crazy part about it.”

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The family says Sykes got COVID at his school, Green Street Academy.

“I know for a fact that he got it from school. We were fine until school started,” Gaskins said.

Gaskins believes Sykes brought the virus home where it spread to his Grandmother, Thomas, his two younger brothers and his mother, Sheena Sykes, who is also in the hospital.

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“She’s so ill that she can’t even tend to the other children,” Gaskins said of her sister, Sykes.

Baltimore City Schools tell WJZ in a statement, “Our hearts go out to the student and their family.” But Gaskins thinks the school should go a step further and shut down.

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Some students were sent home with a letter Thursday stating “an individual at Green Street Academy has tested positive for COVID-19,” but on Friday, Baltimore City Schools reported six students were positive.

“This is the second outbreak at the school,” said Kysherra Walker who cares for her seventh-grade niece who also attends Green Street.

She said she originally thought school should open for in-person learning this school year but now she’s changed her mind, “because kids are really dying, they’re getting sick because of it.”

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Walker agrees with Gaskins that schools should shut down and go back to virtual.

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