Flu-stricken Elizabeth elementary student dies

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A Nicholas LaCorte-Peterstown School No. 3 student diagnosed with influenza has died, a school official said.

ELIZABETH, NJ — A Nicholas LaCorte-Peterstown School No. 3 student diagnosed with influenza has died, the Elizabeth superintendent said in district-wide letters sent on Feb. 18 and 19.

“It is with great sadness that I must report to you that the Elizabeth School District has lost one of its own,” Superintendent Olga Hugelmeyer said in the Feb. 18 letter. “On behalf of the district, our team members, students and the Elizabeth Board of Education, I offer our thoughts, condolences and prayers to the family of our student at this heart-wrenching time.”

It was unclear whether the virus was the primary contributing factor of the child’s passing, Hugelmeyer wrote. The district has not identified the child.

Two other children — one in North Bergen and another in Central Jersey — have reportedly died after having flu-like symptoms during this year’s flu season. The entire state has been experiencing a high rate of flu activity, the state Department of Health reported.

The superintendent confirmed that schools were to remain open following the three-day holiday weekend for President’s Day. She assured parents and guardians that the district would “continue to do everything possible to make the schools safe, healthy learning environments.”

“All schools have been sanitized each day since the fall with a neutral disinfectant DS-1 which is effective in removing all pathogens,” Hugelmeyer wrote on Feb. 19. “In addition, all buses are being sanitized as well. We took additional steps in sanitizing Nicholas LaCorte–Peterstown School No. 3 today.”

The district has been in contact with the Elizabeth Health Department, and the state Department of Health is continuing to investigate the cause of the child’s death, Hugelmeyer wrote.

Grief counseling was available on Feb. 20 for all students and staff. Hugelmeyer reminded parents and guardians that students with a fever should stay home.

The onset of the flu is usually more sudden than a cold and includes symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose and fatigue.