A 10-year-old in Virginia died of Covid-19 complications just five days after she began showing symptoms, according to her parents, who said the girl may have been exposed to the virus as a result of being a class nurse.
Teresa Sperry was a fifth-grader at Hillpoint Elementary School in Suffolk, Virginia, where her teacher gave her the “nurse” job, Teresa’s mother, Nicole Sperry, wrote in a Facebook post after Teresa died Sept. 27.
“Our daughter was perfectly healthy. And would have been here if people would have stopped sending their sick children to school,” Nicole Sperry wrote. “She was ordered to go all sick students in her class to the nurse’s office.”
Teresa only started feeling sick on September 22, her parents, Nicole and Jeff Sperry, told various media outlets. The week before, their daughter had mentioned that she was responsible for escorting classmates who were not feeling well out of the classroom.
“And she said if the kids were sick and going home, she should pick up their book bag and take it back,” Nicole Sperry said told The Virginian-Pilot.
In a statement to NBC News, Suffolk Public Schools said school rules stipulate that adults, not other children, must accompany children who show possible Covid symptoms.
The protocol at Hillpoint Elementary School is that the class teacher or any adult should contact the head office with a code ‘C.’ When this happens, one of the administrators or the school nurse will come to the classroom to pick up the student, ”Anthonette Ward, a community engagement officer for Suffolk Public Schools, wrote in an email. “We are still investigating to ensure that this process was followed with fidelity.”
Teresa was a scout girl and loved to draw, dance and sing, her parents wrote in her obituary, adding that she was “a friend to everyone, even to those who wanted to bully her.”
Her symptoms began with headaches the first day, followed by fever the next, her parents told CNN. This weekend she had a bad cough. Her mother took her to an emergency room, where Teresa was tested for sore throat and plastered for Covid.
The stripe test came back negative. The Covid results, which later came back positive, were still waiting as Teresa stopped breathing over the next 24 hours and was taken to a local hospital. Teresa’s condition worsened and she was transferred to the Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters Norfolk, CNN reported, where she died on September 27.
‘Help for people is my daughter’
Teresa’s school district demands masks, but on the day of her death, parents asked to drop the mask mandate.
“While I was sitting next to my dead daughter, there was a meeting of the Chesapeake School Board and people said, ‘This is not affecting healthy people. This is not killing healthy people. It’s not going to take children out. It is end, ‘”Nicole Sperry told NBC affiliate WAVY in Virginia. “Well, I’m here to tell you it’s not over.”
Nicole and Jeff Sperry are vaccinated, as are their two older children, the couple told CNN. They were planning to get Teresa and her 9-year-old brother vaccinated when the Covid shot was approved for use in children under 12 years of age.
Jeff Sperry tested positive for a breakthrough Covid infection while planning his daughter’s funeral, Nicole Sperry said on her Facebook page.
Fatal cases of Covid are rare in children. Nevertheless, the highly contagious delta variant has led to children making up an increasing proportion of new Covid cases – partly because young children are still not eligible for vaccines. Nearly 5.9 million children have tested positive for the virus since the onset of the pandemic, according to American Academy of Pediatrics.
Sperrys described their daughter as someone who always wanted to help, and they said they were not surprised that she took the role of “nurse,” as she said she was assigned.
“You have to understand my daughter, it’s who she is, it’s my daughter helping people, it’s not something she would not have wanted to do,” Jeff Sperry told CNN.
Nicole Sperry shared a message with anyone who still doubts that Covid is a serious threat.
“We did everything we could have done and now we have lost part of our hearts,” she wrote on Facebook. “Covid is genuine and it does not matter who it takes.”
Shamar Walters the contribution.