Health

Sadness, fear at NJ school after girl dies of flu

NORTH BERGEN — Parents of young students at Lincoln Elementary School are struggling to explain to their children that one of their classmates has tragically died of the flu.

One day after Nevaeh Hernandez, a 6-year-old kindergartner, died at a local hospital, state officials have confirmed that her death is the second fatal case of the pediatric flu in New Jersey.

As parents picked up their children from the 63rd Street school yesterday afternoon, many seemed to be grappling with the sadness and shock of Navaeh’s death and the responsibility to keep their kids from getting sick.

Brenda Cruz, the mother of a 5-year-old girl, said she spoke to her daughter Monday night about what happened.

“It’s not a conversation you want to have with your daughter but I wanted her to know what was going around in school and for her to be careful,” she said. “When she has lunchtime, wash your hands.”

Gemma Fandialan also has a daughter in kindergarten and said she sent her to school with a bottle of hand sanitizer.

“We know the flu this year has been very bad,” Fandialan said. “I just reminded my daughter last night, you know, just make sure every time you touch something, doorknobs, anything you know wash your hands, sanitize your hands.”

The school district said in a statement it has been doing heavy cleanings in all of the classrooms and called the student’s death “a sad day” after “losing one of our own.”

This year’s flu season is tapped to be one of the worst on record, with Forbes estimating up to 4,000 people dying a week nationwide from the virus. Hudson County hospitals reported a drastic increase in flu-related visits and officials have warned residents to get a flu shot. Some municipalities, like North Bergen, are offering the vaccination for free.

The family of the 6-year-old girl has set up a GoFundMe page, www.gofundme.com/our-sweet-angel-nevaeh, to raise money for her funeral and medical costs. A wake is scheduled for Friday from 2 to 8 p.m. at Vainieri Funeral Home on Kennedy Boulevard in North Bergen. A funeral service will be held Saturday at St. Augustine Church in Union City at 10 a.m.

“This precious angel was tragically taken from us. Nevaeh was a beautiful 6-year-old full of life who brought happiness to all who surrounded her,” the fundraising page reads.

Dozens of family friends have also shared their condolences in the comment section of the page.

“You will be so missed in ballet Nevaeh,” one person wrote. “Thank you for bringing us joy each week with your smile … dance in heaven sweet girl! My love and prayers to your entire family.”

“We are all heartbroken over this terrible loss, I am praying endlessly for her and family with love,” another comment reads.

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