The Grapevine

Waterbury Middle School Teacher Dies After Contracting Flu

According to the latest news report, eight more people have just succumbed from the flu and died because of complications.

This, per health officials, brings the total number of flu related deaths in the state of Connecticut up to 40 so far this season, a number that includes a child.

Furthermore, school officials from Waterbury also confirmed Thursday that among those unfortunate casualties is a teacher from one of their schools. Per the officials, Harley Gaafar, an ESL (English as a second language) teacher at West Side Middle School died. 

After learning of this death, grief counselors were reportedly made available for both children and other teachers/staff.

“The school community is devastated and deeply saddened,” Waterbury school officials said.

“It is with a heavy heart to report that Harley Gaafar (a young Muslim Girl who belongs to our Muslim Community of Greater Waterbury Area) passed away [Tuesday],” the Waterbury Islamic Cultural Center said in a statement that they released.  

“Superintendent Verna D. Ruffin and the Waterbury Public Schools community expresses its deepest condolences to the family of Ms. Harley Gaafar. Ms. Gaafar was an English as a Second Language teacher at West Side Middle School. She was a beloved member of the staff. Grief counselors and social workers have been made available to support the students and staff as they grieve],” district officials said in a statement.

According to the school community, Gaafar taught ESL to her classes and was actually well-liked by her students. Dr. Warren Corson III, who worked with Gaafar and her sister at the Pillwillop Therapeutic Farm in Wolcott,  also described Gaafar as a natural teacher that made it very easy to work alongside her.

“She just had that way about her,” Corson wrote.

Following this, officials from the Waterbury school district are hoping that no other casualties would be made and are takings steps to prevent the influenza virus from infecting more people, such as working on cleaning and disinfecting the schools.

The flu season continues to rave the U.S., though experts said that it’s slowly dying down.

Flu vaccine Health care experts recommend that everyone 6 months and older – including the elderly, chronically ill people, and expectant mothers – receive the flu vaccine as soon as it becomes available. U.S. Department of Defense