Norwich school mourns death of middle school student

Norwich — Norwich schools are providing additional counseling and support for students after a seventh grader at the Kelly STEAM Magnet Middle School died Sunday night.

“It is with a heavy heart that I share some tragic news with you,” School Superintendent Kristen Stringfellow wrote in a letter sent home to Kelly parents Monday. “We were informed that one of our 7th grade Kelly STEAM Middle School students passed away last evening. The circumstances are still under investigation. At this time, I ask that as a community, we all respect the privacy of the student and family.”

In the letter, Stringfellow wrote that she has deployed social workers and psychologists from throughout the school district to Kelly on Monday “to support our students.” Students were being allowed to leave classes to access the support personnel.

“We have ample mental health staff here to support your children,” Stringfellow wrote. “They are safe and supported here at school.”

Stringfellow added that children might need more support from their parents and other adults to cope with the tragic loss of a classmate in the coming weeks. Stringfellow provided a list of “distress signals” to parents and said the children’s feelings are normal in response to losing someone they know.

“The school has implemented a crisis response plan to assist the students, faculty and parents in dealing with this tragic incident,” Stringfellow wrote. “In the days and weeks ahead, students may have questions and concerns relating to death and may require additional support at home and our continued support here at school as they work through their feelings and grief.”

Police Chief Patrick Daley said police are continuing to "gather information" on the student's death and declined to comment further.

Stringfellow on Monday issued a statement expressing “deepest condolences” to the family, friends and faculty and thanked school counselors, staff and outside agencies for assisting at Kelly on Monday.

“I am so very grateful for our district school counselors, social workers, psychologists, nurses and administrators who spent the day at Kelly with us supporting our students and staff,” Stringfellow said. “We are also thankful for our partners at (Norwich Free Academy, United Community and Family Services) and mobile crisis for sending their teams to support us.”

Counselors will be at Kelly again Tuesday to support students and staff.

“The Norwich educational community is loving, caring and strong,” Stringfellow said. “We are extremely supportive of each other especially in times of sadness and loss. Please keep the family, our students and teachers in your thoughts and prayers."

c.bessette@theday.com

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