School officials issued a statement on Friday saying the Grade 5 student was “well-liked” and her death is being felt by everyone, including those who didn’t know her.
“This tragedy has brought tremendous sadness to the students and staff at Meadowvale Village Public School,” school principal Stacy Service wrote.
“Riya was a well-liked student, and her death is deeply felt by everyone at the school. Even students who did not personally know Riya will also be affected by this tragedy.”
Peel Regional Police said Rajkumar was out with her father and was supposed to be dropped off with her mother at a predetermined time but never came home.
Authorities said the victim’s mother contacted police just before 7 p.m. and told them he was going to harm himself and her daughter. An Amber Alert was subsequently issued late Thursday evening.
Police said the girl was later located deceased at a residence in Brampton. Her father, 41-year-old Roopesh Rajkumar, was arrested in Oro-Medonte, Ont., north of Toronto.
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A mother whose nine-year-old son attends Meadowvale said the school has given parents tips on how to speak to their children about the tragedy.
“What these kids are thinking in there and what the questions are going to be like when we get home tonight, yeah it’s going to be a tough night,” Lucy Sousa said.
“Today was supposed to be a cookie sale so among all of this, teachers are putting on a happy face and going on with the cookie sale and trying to make it as normal as it can be for the kids in there.”
Officials at Meadowvale Village Public School said members of the Peel District School Board’s Critical Incident Response Team will be at the school for the day to provide support to Riya’s friends and classmates, as well as other students and staff.
“Riya would be seen as a school leader, a great little personality, full of life. Her peers remember her laughing all the time. So certainly a huge loss for this particular community,” PDSB director of communications Carla Pereira said.
“She was well-liked, performed well academically and her loss is felt by everyone in that building today.”
VIDEO: 11-year-old girl found dead in Brampton home, father arrested
The school said the counsellors will remain on-site as long as they are needed.
“Our hearts go out to Riya’s friends and loved ones,” the school said in a statement.
The school board said flags are being flown at half-mast to honour Rajkumar’s memory. A memorial table has also been set up in the school’s foyer so people can write messages of remembrance and condolence.
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