Boarder’s death closes Pietermaritzburg girls’ school

Pietermaritzburg Girls’ High School has been temporarily closed after a boarder died.

The Grade 9 pupil‚ who is from Ladysmith‚ died on Thursday after she fell ill.

The cause of the girl’s death could be viral‚ according to a pathologist’s report‚ said the KwaZulu-Natal education department spokesperson‚ Kwazi Mthethwa.

A notice on the school’s Facebook page on Thursday night stated: “We are deeply saddened by the passing of one of our boarders this afternoon. We extend our sincerest sympathies to her family during this time.”

On Friday a notice was sent to parents saying the school will reopen on Monday.

“As you were informed last night‚ the closure of the boarding establishment and school was a precautionary measure. Our actions were taken under medical advice and with the approval of the education department. At this stage we can confirm that‚ as far as we know‚ no other learners have fallen ill. Thus we have no reason to believe that school will not resume as per normal on Monday‚ August 21‚” the notice read.

Mthethwa said: “The child appeared to have a stomach ache and was vomiting. On Thursday evening she passed away. The boarding establishment was closed to allow us to explore all possibilities as to what caused the death. A pathologist indicated the result of the death could be as a result of a viral infection. The school took precautionary measures to close the hostel. After two classes on Friday‚ it was decided to close the school.”

The principal could not be reached for comment. A phone voice recording said the school’s offices will reopen on Monday morning.

Some parents took to the school’s Facebook to express their concern.

One parent wrote: “Please please could you guys let us know what symptoms to look out for??? My daughter was just at the doctor today‚ we’re waiting for blood test results!”

Education MEC Mthandeni Dlungwane expressed his condolences to the pupil’s friends‚ family and school‚ Mthethwa said.

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