Mississauga mother whose son died of flu urges caution as students head back to school

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WATCH ABOVE: Top of mind for families in Ontario is their children’s safety as they get set to return to school. One of those parents is a Mississauga, Ont. mother who lost a child to the flu. Here is Caryn Lieberman with her warning – Aug 13, 2020

For a Mississauga mother, she says the decision to send her children back to school in a few weeks is an especially difficult one.

“I don’t know how I can trust that they’re going to be safe,” she said.

Jill Promoli lost a son four years ago after her daughter contracted the flu at school and came home sick.

“Isla was in kindergarten at the time and she came down with a fever on a Monday,” recalled Promoli.

“Jude developed it later in the week. He woke up on the Friday morning with a low-grade fever and he seemed fine.”

Jill said she put the twin boys, who were two years old, down for a nap in the afternoon, but Jude never woke up.

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“He died during his nap that day. It was later determined it was cardiac arrest caused by Influenza B,” she said.

An otherwise healthy toddler, Jude died from the flu.

“We really started to understand how quickly illness can affect a classroom,” Jill said.

“One kid coming to school sick can very quickly become a classroom full of sick kids and it doesn’t just stay there it goes home with all of them and it can impact more than just those kids at school,” she said.

Now the family is faced with the dilemma of sending their children back to school amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

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“We’ve already lost one of our kids to an illness in the classroom and right now I don’t feel the government is taking the health and safety of our children seriously,” she said.

On Wednesday, Jill joined other parents and educators on the lawn outside Queen’s Park to demonstrate their specific concerns about back to school.

The group Ontario Parent Action Network created a mock classroom to demonstrate the number of children that could potentially be in one room, and how physical distancing would not be possible for young students.

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“Anyone with kids knows that they’re the best, but they’re not great at preventing the spread of illness,” she said.

As someone who knows firsthand the consequences of an illness that can spread, Jill urged the Ford government to reduce class sizes for students and ensure paid sick days for all.

“I would ask them to consider that they do everything they can to prevent another family from being in my family’s situation,” she said.

Jill said sending her children to school in September with class sizes the way the classes were before the pandemic weighs on her.

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“I feel like it’s been this weight that’s been sitting on me for months at this point and I’ve been waiting for them to take the action that they need to do to make this safer, and instead I just feel it getting heavier and heavier and heavier.”