ELIZABETH — For the third time this year a young child's death is being connected to what has been a deadly flu season.

Elizabeth Public Schools Superintendent Olga Hugelmeyer posted a letter on the district's website on Sunday announcing the student's death.

"It is with great sadness that I must report to you that the Elizabeth School District has lost one of it's own," Hugelmeyer said.

The student was not identified in the letter. Hugelmeyer said the district has been in "close contact" with the Elizabeth Health Department since the student's death.

"While it has been confirmed that the student had been diagnosed with influenza, it presently remains unclear whether or not the virus was the primary contributing factor to the child's passing," she said.

Over 14,065 cases of the  flu have been confirmed this season by the NJ Department of Health as of February 10. 718 cases have been reported in Union County.

Hugelmeyer said in light of the student having the flu and the virus being "widespread this winter season" she said it was "very important that everyone take appropriate precautions." The superintendent said all students are being encouraged to get the flu shot and said that anyone showing "signs and symptoms of the Flu should seek medical advice from a physician."

District schools and offices were already scheduled to be closed on Monday for President's Day. Hugelmeyer said before students return to school Tuesday the district is taking several steps "in order to reduce the possibility of additional cases of this illness" and others.

Going forward students with a fever of more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit will not be able to come back to school until they have been fever free for 48 hours "without a fever reducing medication."

In addition district schools have been cleaned "in a more aggressive manner these past couple of months," according to Hugelmeyer. Cleaning efforts will continue, and the district is encouraging people to wash their hands and do their best to prevent the spread of germs.

Grief counseling will be available when schools reopen on Tuesday.

The death of the Elizabeth student comes less than a week after a 6-year-old girl from Hudson County died from the flu. North Bergen Superintendent George Solter called it a "sad day" for the district in a statement posted on the district's Facebook page. Last month a 4-year-old girl was the first confirmed fatality in the state and Branchburg schools were closed due to an "outbreak of flu among essential personnel."


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Contact reporter Adam Hochron at 609-359-5326 or Adam.Hochron@townsquaremedia.com

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