NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Grief counselors are on hand at a school in New Jersey and at a school in Connecticut Tuesday following the deaths of two young students from possible flu-like symptoms.
It was a somber and nerve-wracking return to classes as parents dropped their children off at school in Elizabeth, New Jersey after 7-year-old Daniela Genaro died over the weekend.
Some students were also in tears as they came in, shaken by the death of their classmate, 1010 WINS’ Glenn Schuck reported.
“It’s pretty hard when I found out yesterday through email,” parent Jesus Valasquez told CBS2’s Reena Roy. “I didn’t want to bring them to school.”
The superintendent sent a letter to parents Monday assuring that “all schools have been sanitized each day since the fall with a neutral disinfectant DS-1, which is effective in removing all pathogens.” School officials said all buses were sanitized as well.
“I’m a little concerned but I think it’s OK,” said parent Jose Cerutti. “We had one case that happened, it’s very unfortunate. We believe the school is taking care of that and they’re doing everything they can to keep children safe.”
But some parents were still planning to keep their kids at home.
“I don’t feel confident in the school district,” said Elizabeth parent Maria Lorenz. “I don’t feel confident sending my son to school. He has health impairments and the last thing he needs is to catch a flu and, God forbid, another tragedy.”
Her family says once she came down with the flu, her death was sudden and devastating.
“I’m very sad, everyone’s sad,” her uncle, Carlos Romero said.
If confirmed by the health department, Genaro will be the third child in New Jersey to die from flu complications this season. It’s not clear whether she had been vaccinated.
Genaro’s neighbors are also frightened.
“We try to not go out, that’s how scared we are. We figure if we don’t come in contact with many people we won’t get it,” neighbor Sandy Anderson said.
Elizabeth school officials say as of Jan. 30, a total of 16 students and faculty members in the district reported flu-like symptoms, which is only half the number compared to this time last year.
In Norwalk, Conn., Columbus Magnet School officials say 6-year-old Emma Splan died over the weekend from possible flu-complications.
“As a precaution, I have asked for a deep cleaning to be completed before school reopens on Tuesday,” said Principal Medard Thomas.
Parents are now keeping an eye out for any symptoms and reminding kids to wash their hands.
“I told them to be careful, if there’s anything tell us and we’ll keep asking questions,” said parent Jose Cerutti.
If confirmed, Emma’s would be the second pediatric flu death in Connecticut this season. Just five weeks ago in New Canaan, 10-year-old Nico Mallozzi died of the flu.
Meanwhile in Rockland County, the New City Fire Department is raising money to cover medical costs for 19-year-old firefighter Will McCue who they say has been hospitalized in critical condition with the flu for the last two weeks.