Student dies after falling ill at city school

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Exterior of Andrew Jackson Elementary School in South Phila. (Google Maps)

A 7-year-old student died suddenly after becoming ill at a city public school, district officials said.

The child, a first grader at Jackson Elementary School in South Philadelphia, experienced some sort of medical emergency. Classroom staff administered CPR and called 911, and the child was taken to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, where he was pronounced dead.

"It's shocking, and it's tragic, and we extend our deepest sympathies to the family," spokesman Fernando Gallard said.

There was no nurse at Jackson at the time the child became ill, Gallard said. The school has a nurse every Thursday and every other Friday.

Karyn Lynch, deputy for student services, emphasized that people trained in CPR and first aid responded to the child as soon as they became aware he was in distress.

"The minute they looked over and saw him, they immediately performed CPR and called 911," Lynch said.

It was not clear whether the child had a pre-existing medical condition. School officials cannot discuss students' medical histories.

Asked whether having a nurse in the building would have made a difference in the child's death, Gallard said: "that's a very difficult question to answer, not knowing what occurred. We're not medical experts. There were trained personnel with CPR certification."

And, Gallard said, "he was transported to one of the best hospitals in the nation."

The school is in shock, Lynch said. The boy had a sibling at Jackson, and his classmates witnessed his distress, then saw him being taken away to the hospital.

Tomorrow, there will be supportive services at Jackson - psychologists and bereavement specialists on site.

"There'll be there for the school day, and for as long as they're needed," Lynch said.

The death occurred later in the school day, Lynch said, so some students may not learn about it until they arrive at school tomorrow.

This is the second death of a student who fell ill at a city school with no nurse. A sixth grader died after suffering an asthma attack at Bryant Elementary. There was no nurse at Bryant when Laporshia Massey became ill.

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