Parents say 5th-grader died of COVID-19 after she was class ‘nurse’


PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — The world will miss Teresa Sperry.

Her parents said that the bubbly 10-year-old Virginia girl died from COVID-19 on Sept. 27 at Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters in Norfolk.

“The world is gonna miss out on her. She had so many dreams, so many goals that she wanted to do; she wanted to be a teacher; she wanted to design clothes. She impacted so many people,” said her mother, Nicole Sperry.

It’s unclear how Teresa, a fifth-grader at Hillpoint Elementary School in Suffolk, contracted the virus, but her parents said their daughter was assigned to escort sick children to the nurse’s office.

Teresa’s father, Jeff Sperry, told NewsNation affiliate WAVY that Teresa was proud of her role as a so-called “nurse.”

A photo of Teresa Sperry (Via Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters)

“She was in the car and was telling me her job was to take care of the sick kids and take them to the nurse,” he recalled.

Dr. John B. Gordon III, superintendent of Suffolk Public Schools (SPS), contradicts the Sperrys’ account.

“It is true that the student had the job of nurse, but that was for Band-Aids or bags of ice for kids who fell on the playground, etcetera,” Gordon explained. “The procedure that is used at the schools is anytime there is a sick student, we call a Code C, and we’ve verified with the teacher and the school nurse and the administration that at no time was the student walking someone to a clinic who was feeling ill.”

Contact tracing is underway, and Gordon told WAVY on Wednesday that no other student in Teresa’s class has tested positive for the coronavirus.

However, the Sperrys stand by their story.

“My daughter is gone; why would she lie? Why would she make that up?” said Jeff Sperry.

SPS on Thursday issued a statement stating it will continue to follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the health department. The Hampton Roads region has recorded three juvenile COVID-19 fatalities.

The children’s hospital provided information for parents on where to get testing and when to act if they are concerned a child has been exposed to the coronavirus.

The Sperrys said they are vaccinated, but Jeff Sperry and Teresa’s brother have tested positive for coronavirus. Because of this diagnosis, funeral arrangements are pending.

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