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Family of Millard student battling COVID says he's a 'strong fighter'
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Family of Millard student battling COVID says he's a 'strong fighter'

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The family of an Omaha boy battling COVID-19 said Friday that their son is a “strong fighter.”

They say their son, a Millard Public Schools student who was hospitalized with the disease, has fought through COVID-19 pneumonia and secondary bacterial infections.

“We are with him every step of the way,” they said.

The boy is a student at the district’s Black Elk Elementary, which experienced a COVID-19 outbreak late last week. District officials closed the school Monday until Nov. 15.

“Difficult times have a way of shining a bright light on people, and our family has found unbelievable kindness,” the family said in a statement. “From homemade cards to meal trains, the support of friends, neighbors, Black Elk elementary, Millard schools and Children’s Hospital & Medical Center has sustained us through a challenging time.”

In the statement, released by the Millard Public Schools, the family said they wanted privacy. But they also wanted to thank people who have supported them.

The family said what they learned from their struggle may help other families.

“First, please be aware of how random symptoms may appear and how quickly COVID can escalate,” they said. “Our situation started with a bright rash on the cheeks that we gave little thought. Second, it is easy to be complacent with COVID because it’s gone on much too long, but nothing has changed and we need to be vigilant.”

Classes were canceled at Black Elk after a sixth classroom at the school was closed and brought the percentage of the building closed because of COVID-19 to 25%.

As of Monday, when officials closed the school, Black Elk had 34 active COVID cases, by far the highest among Millard’s 35 schools, according to the district’s COVID dashboard. The district’s other 24 elementary schools remain open.

The family said that because of their personal experiences, “the one thing we feel can change COVID is vaccines.”

“Those old enough in our family vaccinated, and even though we have been exposed, we have remained healthy,” they said. “This has been so important as we take care of each other. We encourage everyone to have a conversation with their physician about vaccines.”

The family also encouraged people to be kind to one another.

“Finally and maybe most importantly, we are all tired, but we need to continue to be compassionate with one another. We do not all have to agree, but we can be kind.”

The Millard district has a mask-optional policy — masks are not required but recommended. Millard district officials impose mandatory masking in classrooms and schools on a case-by-case basis when students or teachers test positive in school.

joe.dejka@owh.com, 402-444-1077

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Joe covers education for The World-Herald, focusing on pre-kindergarten through high school. Phone: 402-444-1077.

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