A 10-year-old Anne Arundel County, Maryland elementary school student died from complications of COVID-19.
A GoFundMe post described Stephen Wagner as a loving fourth-grade student who loved to play the viola and was part of Hilltop Elementary School’s Strings and Chorus group.
This academic year was Stephen’s first at Hilltop.
“He made friends very easily, had a lot of friends. (He was) very well-liked by all of his teachers and the staff at the school,” Anne Arundel County Public Schools spokesman Bob Mosier said. “Just a terrible loss.”
Mosier said Stephen liked trucks, fishing, and bowling. A GoFundMe post said Stephen was kind, humble, and loved his family more than anything.
“The school’s administration has been in touch with the family multiple times over the break and continues now to offer whatever support they can provide,” Mosier said.
On New Year’s Day, Hilltop’s principal, Eileen Gagnon, sent a letter to parents of all fourth-grade students, saying, in part: “I also encourage you to talk openly with your child about this sad event and to help them understand that it’s OK not to have answers to every question. Children learn how to deal with grief by watching adults deal with grief. Please do not be afraid to express your emotions in front of your children. Healthy outlets of emotions can be a valuable lesson for them.”
“Any time you lose a student, it’s very difficult, no matter what grade level it is. The most difficult thing we as a school system or staff at a school deal with, the emotions of it are very difficult. And when it’s someone as young as Stephen was, they are even more difficult,” Mosier said.
The district is making resources available to students and staff at the school.
“There will be resources at the school for students and staff when we reopen. Hopefully, that will be tomorrow (Tuesday), but whenever that is, there will be resources there for all students, not just fourth-graders, but for all students and staff,” Mosier said.
No funeral arrangements have been made. The GoFundMe effort intends to raise $10,000 to help with that.
According to the Maryland Department of Health, there have been four COVID-19 deaths in children ages 0 to 9, and nine deaths in children aged 10 to 19 since the pandemic started. Over the past month, COVID-19 cases in children 0 to 9 increased by 40% with 17,379 cases in that period, and cases of children 10 to 19 increased by 38% with 25,102 cases in that period.