A second grader at Worrall Elementary School in Marple Township has died from complications of the flu.
Tina Kane, superintendent of the Marple Newtown School District, said Matthew Wzorek died Sunday evening.
Additionally, the school’s second-grade teacher has tested positive for influenza B, is being treated with Tamiflu, and will be off work for several days, Kane said in a notice to parents.
“In all likelihood, all of the students in this second grade classroom have been exposed to the influenza B virus. Furthermore, it is probable that other students or staff members in Worrall have been exposed to the virus,” the superintendent said. “Quite frankly, since the virus is airborne, the entire district should be on high alert for signs and symptoms of the flu.”
Kane said the district is in contact with county and regional medical health authorities, and infectious disease specialists “have advised that this has been a very aggressive flu season and the influenza has infected adults and an unusually high volume of children.”
“If students present symptoms during school, they will be sent home immediately,” Kane told parents. “In the event that your child exhibits any signs of illness, please keep your child home and seek immediate medical attention.”
The Pennsylvania Department of Health has reported that as of Feb. 8, 47 people had died from flu-related complications in the state since October, but none of them was under the age of 18.
In reporting Matthew’s death in an email to parents, Kane said he “was known to have a happy smile and kind heart in class,” according to 6ABC.
“He loved being with his friends, and was always willing to offer assistance to his teachers and peers. To say that he will be missed is an enormous understatement,” she said.
Kane said counselors and other support personnel would be available at the school to help students and staff cope with the boy’s death.
“Please keep Matthew, his parents, and older brother Jacob in your thoughts and prayers," she said.
Funeral services for Matthew were Tuesday at Temple Sholom in Broomall.
In an obituary posted online, his parents, Barry and Rebecca, said Matthew “brought happiness and joy to everyone that was blessed enough to be a part of his beautiful life.”
“His dad nicknamed him Smiley. He loved Disney, Harry Potter, cuddling with his family, and putting his all into everything (including basketball, baseball, football, and soccer).”
Health officials say influenza A, which has a reputation as the meaner brand of flu, is growing in strength, while B has stabilized at a fairly high level.