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    Stratford Community Saddened by Loss of Preschool Student

    12/11/2008
    Dear Parents,

    Words cannot express the sorrow we feel for the loss of one of our vibrant, young Los Gatos preschool students who passed away at home this weekend. Our hearts go out to the family as they cope with the sudden and tragic loss of their child.

    The Santa Clara County Public Health Department was initially concerned that the cause of death may have been meningococcal disease.  The local news media picked up the story and many parents were understandably very frightened by the news.  Fortunately, the Public Health Department has concluded that the cause of death was not infectious disease, so there is no risk to other students from this tragic incident.

    We have received many questions from parents over the last couple days about this tragedy.  We have tried to answer as many of these questions as we can with parents individually, but wanted to ensure that all of our parents receive the same information, so we have consolidated these questions and our answers into the Q&A below.  If you have any additional questions, please let us know.

    Our families are at the very heart of Stratford School and we appreciate the outpouring of support and sincere wishes we have received to help during this difficult time.  As we find our way through this sorrow, we are comforted in knowing that we have an incredibly close community and we are here for each other. Thank you for your continued understanding, and for keeping the family in your thoughts and prayers.

    Warmly,

    Sherry Adams,  Co-Founder & Director of Educational Services
    Matthew Wulfstat, President

    Questions and Answers



    1.    Is there anything we can do to help the family?

    Stratford has set up a college fund for the young girl’s sibling and other families will be able to add to the fund if they wish.  More information will follow soon. 

    2.    What can I do as a parent do to help my child understand this tragedy?

    If your child asks or talks about this child’s passing, it is important to reassure them of their own safety.  It is also important to allow them to express their feelings.

    3.    Do I need to be concerned about my child’s health at Stratford?

    The Health Department has notified us that the cause of death was not due to an infectious disease, so there is no risk to other students from this tragic incident.

    4.     What is Stratford’s communication policy for these serious situations?

    The Santa Clara County Public Health Department identified the children who had direct contact with the deceased girl as the only children potentially at risk for exposure and specifically requested that we only notify those families.

    Meningococcal disease is a health and safety issue that we take very seriously.  The Public Health Department has significant experience with proper safety and communication procedures and we followed their recommendations explicitly.

    5.    Why didn’t Stratford cancel school?


    The Public Health Department assured us that it was safe to continue school.  They also explained that “The meningococcal bacterium does not live on environmental surfaces or in the air.  The bacteria can live outside the body for only a few minutes.” 

    According to our on-site grief counselor, children need as much normalcy as possible following the death of someone they know.

    6.    How do we know the school will keep children safe from exposure to diseases?

    We take responsibility for the health and well-being of all our students very seriously.  If the Public Health Department had notified us that it was not safe to continue to operate school, we would have immediately notified all parents through our emergency notification system and cancelled school accordingly.  We have and will continue to provide a safe and secure environment for our students.

    7.    What was the cause of death?

    Only the coroner’s office and the family are notified of cause of death.  The health department informed Stratford on Tuesday that the cause was not from any infectious disease.  They went on to state, “No health alert is needed as there is no risk to other children.” 

    Stratford School has a legal responsibility to uphold confidentiality in matters that include medical information.  It is up to the family (or public health officials) to release any further information on the cause of death.

    8.    What is the child’s name?

    We do not plan to release the child’s name.  We believe the family suffered a great tragedy and it would be wrong for them to have to contend with media attention resulting from the release of confidential information. We extend the same respect and confidentiality to all our families. We hope the community will show the family the same respect for privacy.


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