Kevin Christian, public relations officer for Marion County Public Schools, said the student got off a school bus and went to the health clinic because he wasn’t feeling well. Officials decided to call 911, and the boy was taken to an area hospital, officials said. The boy was then transferred to another hospital, where he died, Christian said.
The Department of Health in Marion County told school officials that it’s not believed that the boy had a highly contagious condition.
School officials, however, urged parents to take precaution and watch their children for symptoms that include fever, headache, stiff neck, nausea and confusion. Should any students show symptoms, they should be taken to a doctor.
“We as a school district were concerned enough that we felt like we needed and wanted to share information with parents here at the school,” Christian said. “We don’t believe that we’re dealing with any kind of mass outbreak or any kind of contagious situation, but because we don’t know that for certain, that’s why we took those precautions. That’s why we share the information with parents, just in case. Unfortunately, this is a situation where we have to depend on the experts to truly tell us what happened and what we need to do from this point.”
A message was sent to parents, alerting them about the boy’s death.
“I’m very shocked. Very worried,” parent Kristina Tirado said. “Definitely keep an eye out for the symptoms that now are being let known to the parents. “Definitely communicate with your kids. If they’re not feeling good, don’t take it lightly. “It sounds exactly like the symptoms of meningitis.”
But officials said parents should not be overly worried.
“Based on what we’re told by the health department, those parents (of students who had close contact with the boy) don’t need to be greatly concerned,” Christian said.
The student’s bus has been removed from service and the bus driver was not on duty Thursday, Christian said. The school was cleaned thoroughly, although it was not decontaminated, officials said.
Grief counselors were available at Horizon Academy.
“This was a six to eight hour time span that this child arrived to school and then was no longer with us,” Christian said.
Sunrise Elementary, a nearby school where the student’s siblings attend, was also cleaned.