A Virginia couple say their 10-year-old daughter died from COVID-19 complications after she was tasked with assisting her ill classmates.
According to CNN, Hillpoint Elementary School student Teresa Sperry began exhibiting symptoms on Sept. 22. Her parents said the child first complained about a headache, but began running a fever within the next day. They told the network they had scheduled a COVID test for their daughter on Sept. 27, but her symptoms became so severe they chose to take her to the emergency room the day before.
Once they arrived at the hospital, Teresa was tested for both strep throat and coronavirus. The former test came back negative, and the latter results were pending.
“They did her chest X-ray and when they came back, they said that there was no signs of Covid pneumonia, her lungs were perfect, beautiful,” Teresa’s mother Nicole Sperry told CNN. “They didn’t seem concerned.”
The parents ultimately took Teresa back home, where she continued to quarantine; however, the child reportedly stopped breathing the following day and was transferred to Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters in Norfolk, where she died shortly after. The COVID tests result confirmed Teresa had contracted the virus.
“We are home. But we left a huge piece of our hearts at CHKD,” Nicole wrote in a Sept. 27 Facebook post. “It hurts so much to not have her here. To see her name that I painted on her door a few years ago when we painted her room. To see her cat walking around the house knowing that my diva is never coming back. And I want to explain by complications that her heart just gave up. Our daughter was perfectly healthy.”
Nicole and Teresa’s father, Jeff Sperry, say their daughter was given the title of “class nurse” just a week before her death. As part of the job, the fifth-grader would reportedly help walk sick classmates to the nurse’s office—a task that was reportedly reserved for school staff.
At Hillpoint Elementary School, the protocol is for the classroom teacher or an adult to contact the main office with a “Code C” if a child is feeling ill and one of the administrators, or a school nurse will come to the classroom to pick up the student, Dr. John B. Gordon, III, Suffolk Public Schools Division superintendent told CNN last Thursday.
School officials say they are investigating whether Teresa’s teacher was following COVID protocols.
It remains unclear how Teresa was exposed to the virus, but CNN reports Nicole, Jeff, and their two oldest sons were vaccinated. Teresa and her 9-year-old brother had not received the jabs, as the family was waiting for their eligibility.
“My beautiful girl was taken from me because people are too damn selfish to care about what could happen to others,” Nicole wrote on Facebook. “I wasn’t. We weren’t. We wore our mask because there are too many in our tribe who are at risk. My daughter was not at risk. And now she is gone. This horrible excuse of a letter is not acceptable. Want to know what you can do to honor my lovely girl? Wear a damn mask! Get vaccinated! Social distance! And most importantly stop complaining and keep your sick kids at home. Because in the end you will still get to hug yours.”