Thousands of NYC students lost parents to COVID. Many aren’t getting the help they need.

Thousands of NYC students lost parents to COVID. Many aren’t getting the help they need.

This story was produced in collaboration with THE CITYColumbia Journalism InvestigationsType Investigations and City Limits as part of “MISSING THEM,” THE CITY’s COVID memorial and journalism project. Do you know a child who has lost a parent or caregiver to COVID-19? Tell us more here. If you know someone who died due to COVID, share their story here or email us at

This story was originally published on Jan. 16 by THE CITY.

In April 2020, as the death toll from COVID mounted across New York City, an elementary school teacher at the Children’s Lab School, in Sunnyside, Queens, organized a virtual dance party to give her second-grade class some levity. One student, 8-year-old Yarely, had trouble signing on to the remote classroom.

“My dad is the one who is good with computers,” she told her teacher, “but he’s sick in bed.”

The student’s father, 32-year-old Diego Vintimilla, was a fixture at parent-teacher conferences and often helped Yarely with her classwork. That day, Vintimilla, an immigrant from Ecuador, managed to fix his daughter’s computer connection from his bed. He was hospitalized with COVID the next day.

Vintimilla died two weeks later.

Yarely returned to school the day after she was told of her father’s death, confused by what had happened to him. She asked her teacher where her father was.

Wanting to support her student, Yarely’s teacher met on video calls with the school social worker, parent coordinator and principal, but no one knew what to do, she recalls. She searched online, using phrases like “how to help grieving students” and cobbled together handouts. But she found herself struggling to help.

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CITE is the Center for Integrated Training and Education.
For over 25 years, CITE has and continues to train:

TEACHERS: General and Special Ed Masters (Early Childhood or Childhood), Adolescent Special Ed / Professional Certification Masters, TESOL MastersSpecial Ed license extension courses, Bilingual license extension coursesTESOL license extension courses, Early Childhood license extension courses

COUNSELORSSchool Counseling MastersMental Health Counseling MastersAdvanced Certificate in Mental Health or School Counseling

ADMINISTRATORSSchool Building LeadershipSchool District LeadershipDoctorate for CSA members, Doctorate for non-CSA membersPublic Administration Master’s

— in all five boroughs of NYC, Yonkers, Westchester, Nassau and Suffolk.

CITE PD: CITE offers CTLE-approved in-school or online professional development tailored to your school’s needs and your vision. We can work remotely with your staff and parents. Info: