Child's death leads to health scare at Peoria school

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Some parents removed their children from school on Tuesday because of a health scare at Vistancia Elementary.

Officials with the Peoria Unified School District said one of the students at the school got sick with a respiratory condition and died, but they do not have the specific diagnosis.

The decision was made not to close the school. Instead, administrators switched some classrooms around to sanitize areas of concern. Otherwise, they tried to maintain a "business as usual" atmosphere, even though many parents decided to pick up their kids from school early.

A large group of parents was seen outside Vistancia Elementary on Tuesday morning. The parents were waiting to check their children out of school.

"There was a long line of people picking up their kids just to be on the safe side," said parent Angelina Mellecker.

They came to the school after they found out a student has a very serious respiratory illness.

"Parents calling other parents saying ‘hey you may want to watch out and be aware,'" said parent Chris Rohde.

"All of a sudden people getting signed out left and right," said student Macario Mellecker.

"I was a little confused as to why there were so many kids getting signed out," said student Dylan Mellecker.

Parents said they are concerned that there is a virus at the school that could easily spread to their children.

"Especially that enterovirus that’s going on lately that doesn’t give you a lot of chance to react to kind of when it strikes it strikes pretty hard and quick," said Rohde.

The school sent out a letter to parents explaining that a first grade student got ill last weekend and was being treated for a very serious respiratory condition.

The district also sent out a voice recording to parents stating what was in the letter.

That’s when Amy Smith decided to keep her 4-year-old child home.

"We were on our way there, and I heard the voice recording so I just figured better safe than sorry until we find out what’s going on," said Smith.

District officials tell 3TV they do not know exactly how many students were picked up from the school because of these concerns.

Click here to read the Vistancia parent letter from Maricopa County

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The following message was just sent out to the Vistancia community:

October 14, 2014

Dear Vistancia Parents/Guardians,

It is with deep regret and sadness that I inform the Vistancia community of the passing of one of our first-grade students. On behalf of our entire community, we extend our heartfelt condolences to the family during this very difficult time. Many of our students know the individual who passed away. Your child, depending on the relationship she or he has with the student, may experience a variety of emotions. Our crisis intervention team and counselors will be on campus tomorrow morning for students and staff. This tragic loss reminds all of us how precious life is.

To reinforce the measures we are taking to ensure that all students and staff are safe and learning in a healthy environment on the Vistancia campus, please know we have disinfected every room as an extra precaution by wiping down desk tops, counter tops, and other common surface areas. Cleaning procedures will be reinforced with students such as hand washing and hygiene protocols. We are working and following the advice of Maricopa County Health Department and their medical experts. We have included some guidance from Maricopa County Health Department for parents with this message.

We are currently developing some options for parents surrounding parent-teacher conferences which are scheduled to take place later this week. Your child's teacher will be contacting you with those options.

While the family undoubtedly continues to grieve, we share in their profound loss. We are committed to keeping the community informed as information becomes available.  If you have any questions, please contact school administration. Thank you for your support and understanding.


Sincerely,
Peoria Unified Public Relations
 

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Here is the letter from the school to parents:

October 14, 2014

Dear Vistancia Parent/Guardian:

As you may be aware, a first-grade student became ill over the weekend and is currently being treated for a very serious respiratory condition. At this time, we do not have a specific diagnosis of this illness.

The district is currently working with Maricopa County Health Department as the health and well-being of our students and community is the number one priority. Some classrooms have been relocated in order to thoroughly clean and sanitize all surface areas.

We are keeping in close contact with the student’s family and are lending our support. As more information becomes available about the student and a specific diagnosis, we will keep you updated.

Please keep this family in your thoughts. The unity of the Vistancia community continues to be a source of pride and strength and we appreciate each and every one of its members.

If you have any questions or concerns about your child’s health, we would encourage you to contact your family physician. If you have further questions, please do not hesitate to contact the school.

Thank you.