‘Extremely sad’: Kansas middle school student dies of COVID-19, education official says

A middle school student in Kansas has died from COVID-19, as the state continues experiencing statewide clusters.
Randy Watson, Education Commissioner, shared the information during a videoconference with Gov. Laura Kelly's Safer Classrooms Group. He stated that he was only informed of the death shortly after he joined the meeting.

A very sad note, I was informed, literally, before I entered this other room to meet you, that a middle school student died from COVID in the last possible day Watson stated.

He said that these are the kinds of things we do to ensure schools remain open. It's keeping them safe and open.

Wednesday afternoon was a mystery as to the exact cause of the death and the circumstances surrounding it, including whether the child contracted the disease at school.

A spokesperson for Kansas' education department declined to answer questions and referred them to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

KDHE and the local public health officials are looking into reports of a death in a child due to COVID-19, a KDHE spokesperson Matt Lara told The Star in an email. KDHE reached out to the facility that provided care for the minor and requested medical records. To protect the identity and family of the deceased, no other information will be disclosed at this point.

According to state health data, two children died in Kansas from COVID-19 since the outbreak. It wasn't clear if the latest death was included in these statistics.

According to data from the health department, there are 72 active COVID-19 schools that have been linked to 537 cases and 1 hospitalization in the state. Piper Prairie Elementary, Kansas City, Kansas is one of the most recent exposure sites. Five cases were reported in the last two weeks.

Numerous COVID-19 cases have been reported by schools in the state and Kansas City regions.

Experts in public health have advised districts to use a multi-tiered approach for mitigating the virus. This includes vaccination, masking and social distancing, continuous cleaning, testing, and symptom monitoring. Experts believe that schools are particularly important because children younger than 12 years old are not eligible for the vaccine.

This report was contributed by Katie Bernard, Stars.