“I was considered high risk,” she said.
She received extended sick pay from her employer for two months and then became unemployed. She has health insurance through her work, she said. The kids are on Medicaid, and she was able to keep her bills up to date with a check for additional safety insurance for her son from the federal government and COVID-related emergency health care benefits for dietary supplements.
But the burden of caring for and home-schooling a sick child who sometimes had daily chemotherapy sessions was enormous, Dews said. Although she would have preferred to keep her younger son Alijah Willis at home too, despite her fears of contracting the virus, she enrolled him in a head-start program, mainly so that he could go somewhere when she was her older son took to his appointments.
Dews’ eyes filled with tears as she described those days. Visiting classes were discontinued and she had to help her son with online classes.
“I was so stressed. It was so exhausting for me, “she said. It would have been a lot worse without her sisters and other family who live nearby and take her son to some of his appointments, she said. “I don’t know how I held out mentally,” she said. “But I had to do it for her.”
When Roanoke City public schools reopened for personal tuition in April, Dews was reluctant to give her children back, but in the end she decided it was best for her.