(CNN) – On Sunday, Nicole Sperry said her last goodbye to her 10-year-old daughter, who died of COVID-19. Less than 24 hours later, he was behind a podium fighting parental misinformation at a Virginia school board meeting.
At a Chesapeake Public School District meeting held in September, parents and community members denied the existence of the deadly virus and advocated for the suppression of the district mask mandate, insisting that the pandemic was over.
“My message to you and to everyone who is listening is that the covid is not over, no matter what the people who have spoken here have said,” Sperry said, who also teaches in the district, during the Monday meeting. “On September 27, during the last meeting, there were concerned parents or citizens who expressed misinformation to them.”
“They said that the covid is practically over and that healthy people do not die. When they were sharing this information, their opinions, the fact is that I was sitting next to the deathbed of my healthy daughter. She died five days after showing symptoms. I’m sure they were talking about what they experienced, but they are wrong. “
As of Tuesday, the Virginia Department of Health has recorded a total of 14 pediatric and adolescent deaths in the state since the beginning of the pandemic.
“Covid is real and we want people to take it more seriously”
Aside from a broken arm when she was younger, Teresa was a healthy, social and happy 10-year-old girl who never had the flu or even an ear infection, Nicole said.
Teresa attended Hillpoint Elementary School in Suffolk, 20 miles from Norfolk, Virginia, where there is a mandatory mask use mandate. Nicole and her husband Jeff Sperry are vaccinated, as are their two older children. Teresa and her youngest 9-year-old son were not yet vaccinated, but they were looking forward to doing so.
Teresa’s covid-19 symptoms started with a headache one day, fever the next, and worsened over the course of a few days. She developed a persistent cough, so strong it made her vomit, so Nicole took her to the ER, where Teresa underwent a negative strep throat test, as well as a covid-19 test, but her results were pending. .
The next day, her parents received positive COVID-19 test results and when Jeff went to check on her in her room, he found her unconscious. Teresa was taken to a local hospital and transferred to the Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters in Norfolk, where she passed away.
“Children are catching COVID and this is happening in schools,” Nicole said. “We have to make sure that all the protocols that you, as a school board, say we follow, are being followed. I hate wearing a mask, but I do it because I don’t want the children I teach to get sick. “
Nicole has not returned to classrooms since Teresa’s death, but said that when teaching, she made sure all her students used the mask correctly without drawing attention to themselves, constantly used hand sanitizer, and frequently cleaned high surfaces. traffic.
“I explained to my students why we make sure to cover our noses because it is a respiratory disease,” he said. “I explained to them that we breathe through the nose and mouth and this is how it can spread.”
During Monday’s meeting, Nicole urged attendees to “do everything we can to protect our children” and to set an example on how to use masks correctly and show compassion and empathy.
“Covid is real and we want people to take it more seriously,” he said.
Teresa Sperry was buried on October 10, 2021. The Sperries asked attendees to dress in their favorite color and bring a colored pen to share a favorite memory of her in a journal.
“We have heard from several people who are getting vaccinated and taking this more seriously because of their history,” Nicole said.
The Sperries shared their daughter’s story in hopes that someone would change their mind and get vaccinated against COVID-19 or put on a mask to protect others.
Teresa was an avid reader who appreciated the arts, loved to draw, dance at home, sing, and was an active Girl Scout.
“Covid-19 took her from us as soon as she started showing symptoms,” Nicole wrote in Teresa’s obituary. “And his heart, which was big enough to care for everyone he knew, was not strong enough to stay with us.”