NORTH BROOKFIELD (CBS) – A six-year-old student in North Brookfield passed away suddenly from an unknown illness over the weekend.
School officials say six-year-old Dominic Brown, a student at North Brookfield Elementary School suddenly became ill and died.
“I had an opportunity to meet with the parent just earlier today and… it is just overwhelming grief,” said Superintendent John Provost.
The Worcester District Attorney is investigating, not because of any suspicion of foul play, but because it was an unattended death. What caused Brown to get sick is still a mystery. Officials were not willing to publicly discuss any of his symptoms.
Even though there is no known connection with the school, officials there ordered the entire building sanitized before students came back.
Monday, Brown’s first grade classroom was cleaned twice.
“Not that we have any reason to believe that that the death was even connected to any type of a pathogen, but just to be on the safe side we made sure we did that,” said Provost.
School administrators sent messages to parents on Monday, personally calling families of Brown’s classmates and those of his older sibling.
They wanted to give parents time to talk to their children.
“To go through that series of 60 calls yesterday – talking to individual parents, saying I’m not exactly sure as a parent how you process this with your child – but I wanted to give you the information,” Provost recalled of his conversations.
As students return from holiday break, counselors will help them deal with the sudden loss.
Staff members from other districts who will be on standby as well.
“I could not believe the horror and the agony that the family must have been in,” Provost said.
School committee member and parent of two, Nikki Styles, says this tragedy is having a tremendous impact on the community.
“There is no rule book on how to do this. This is something that you wouldn’t expect to happen and this town has seen a horrible tragedy,” she said.
Her grief, and that of many others, has turned now to a need to help.
“I said one word, benefit and then dinner and immediately had 15 responses on social networking,” she said.
Although plans have just started, Styles is organizing a fundraiser to help the family and she says they are grateful for the outpouring of support.
“They are. It has not gone unnoticed. At this time, it is hard for them to outreach to us but we know and we’re willing. This community is amazing,” Styles said.
To learn more about the fundraising efforts, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.