Haddon Twp. Schools Mourn Sudden Death of COVID-Positive Student as Health Officials Investigate


Amelia Perry was COVID-positive when she died suddenly this week, but public health officials say she had underlying complications, and have not yet determined that her death was COVID-related.

By Matt Skoufalos | September 24, 2021

Haddon Township’s Rohrer Middle School, exterior. Credit: Matt Skoufalos.

A seventh-grade Haddon Township student who died suddenly this week was COVID-positive at the time of her passing, according to district officials.

Amelia Perry, who began the 2021-22 school year in person at Rohrer Middle School, was hospitalized recently with an undisclosed illness; sadly, she did not survive.

After having notified the school community about Perry’s death on Thursday, Haddon Township Superintendent of Schools Robert Fisicaro reported Friday that Perry also was positive for novel coronavirus (COVID-19) when she died.

However, Fisicaro said that Perry also suffered from other, pre-existing conditions that “could have contributed to this tragic loss of life.”

The cause of the her death has not yet been determined, pending an investigation from the Camden County Health Department and medical examiner, the superintendent said.

“[Today]  was a sad day,” Fisicaro said. “Any time you lose a student, you’re living the worst-case scenario.

“We are supporting the family and anybody who knew Amelia.”

Perry is survived by multiple family members, including a younger sibling in the fourth grade at Strawbridge Elementary School.

Supporting the school community in its collective grief, counselors from Haddonfield Public Schools supplemented Haddon Township district staffers on Friday, Fisicaro said. He also provided resources to help parents communicate with children about the sudden loss of a peer.

New infections trending younger

Earlier this week, Camden County officials reported that young residents are transmitting COVID-19 to their unvaccinated peers, with more than one-third of all new cases county-wide originating in children younger than 18.

Twenty-five-percent of all cases in Camden County were reported in children 13 and younger prior to the start of the school year, and officials expect more will follow.

Across the county, 260 COVID-19 cases have been reported among students and school staff since in-person instruction began this month. A school-related outbreak is defined as infections of three or more students, staff, or faculty who are connected only by in-school transmission.

Presently, Haddon Township has logged seven confirmed COVID-19 cases among students and staff since the start of the school year, none of which originated within the district itself, Fisicaro said.

File photo: Camden County Health Officer Paschal Nwako addresses the public about the first presumed case of coronavirus in Camden County. Credit: Matt Skoufalos.

Camden County Public Affairs Director Dan Keashen said that every school district in New Jersey follows “very strict and standard” risk mitigation guidance established by the New Jersey Department of Health.

The investigation into Perry’s death is being led by the county health department, which is “working hand-in-glove with the school nurse,” Keashen said.

“We really need the investigation to play out; for the contact tracers to do their jobs, get the data that we need from multiple hospital systems, and make a determination based on that investigation,” he said.

“Right now, the number-one precaution to take for students that are 12 and up is to get vaccinated and to follow all safety mitigation strategies that have been laid out: masking, social distancing, staying home when you’re sick; things that can and should be done in every school,” Keashen said.

This is a developing story. Stick with NJ Pen for updates.

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