Update: Identity of first grader who died at CRH Thursday released

5:27 p.m. update:

Bartholomew County Coroner’s Office has identified the first grader who died at Columbus Regional Hospital Thursday as Savanna G. Jessie.

She was found unresponsive in her home by family members Thursday morning, according to the coroner’s office. Emergency responders rushed her to Columbus Regional Hospital, where she was pronounced dead by Batholomew County Coroner Clayton Nolting.

The girl had been treated after testing positive for influenza B, strep throat, and scarlet fever.  An autopsy was performed Friday by a forensic pathologist.  A final ruling on the cause of death is pending review of medical records, toxicology, and histology reports, which could take up to three weeks, Nolting said.

ORIGINAL STORY:

The cause of death for a first grader at Columbus Signature Academy — Lincoln Elementary School is pending the completion of toxicology and other tests, Bartholomew County Coroner Clayton Nolting said today.

The 7-year-old was taken to Columbus Regional Hospital early Thursday and was pronounced dead at 6:39 a.m., Nolting said. The girl’s name is not being released until notifications to family are completed, he said.

An autopsy was conducted this morning at Columbus Regional Hospital, Nolting said. In addition to toxicology tests, the coroner’s office is seeking testing on body tissue samples and is seeking the girl’s medical records.

The girl tested positive for Influenza B and strep throat, and had scarlet fever at the time of her death, Nolting said. She had been running a very high fever, but there is no indication that she suffered sepsis, which is harmful bacteria and their toxins, typically from an infection, Nolting said. There is no indication of foul play in the death, he said.

Counselors are available today at the girl’s school to help her classmates with their grief.

Statement from school district

BCSC Superintendent Jim Roberts released a statement Friday afternoon acknowledging with great sadness the death of the first grader and addressing families’ concerns about the flu.

BCSC has notified Dr. Roy Goode, the school corporation’s physician, the Bartholomew County Health Department and the Indiana State Department of Health, the statement said. Although there is no reporting requirement about illness rates until the absence rate reaches 20 percent, Roberts said BCSC’s rate is hovering around 5 percent and it is imperative that the school corporation share information about the spread of germs.

The statement advised:

Parents or guardians concerned about a child’s overall health, flu-like symptoms or other risk factors should contact their child’s primary health care provider or the local health department for recommendations.

Those who are sick should stay home and contact their doctor for advice. Students and staff are encouraged to get the flu vaccine.

Everyday preventative actions such as covering your nose and mouth with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing, washing your hands or using hand sanitizer and to avoid spreading germs by touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

“As always, school attendance is critical to a child’s success,” the statement said. “We respect a parent’s determination regarding his or her child’s attendance. In making the decision to keep a child at home, as with any absence, parents are expected to contact the school and provide the specific reason to school officials.”

School officials met Thursday with staff members and informed them about the girl’s death, but students were not told at that time, said Larry Perkinson, the Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. employee and student assistance coordinator.

Also Thursday, CSA-Lincoln staff called each family who has students in the girl’s class to inform them of her death, and a written notification was sent to all families who have children in the school, Perkinson said.

For more on this story, see Saturday’s Republic.