GLEN BURNIE, Md. (WJZ) -- A fourth-grader at a Glen Burnie elementary school died unexpectedly Wednesday, according to Anne Arundel County Public Schools. A fundraiser for the 10-year-old boy's family said he died from COVID-19 complications.
Stephen Wagner was in his first year at Hilltop Elementary School, but he didn't have trouble making friends, said a letter AACPS sent to families Saturday. The school district made a public announcement Monday.
"Stephen was a kind and fun-loving young man who was a pleasure to be around," said Principal Eileen Gagnon in the letter. "He worked hard to do well in school and always put forth his best effort. He was a good team player and worked well with his classmates."
The school said Stephen was a member of the school's strings and chorus groups and enjoyed playing the viola, trucks, fishing, and bowling.
A GoFundMe for his funeral costs started Saturday with a $10,000 goal, but has surpassed $11,500 as of Monday evening. The surplus money will be used for unforeseen expenses, the organizer said.
Maryland has seen a sharp increase in pediatric COVID-19 hospitalizations since a surge of infections spurred by the Omicron variant. Since the pandemic began, the state has reported 13 COVID-19 related deaths in residents under 19-years-old.
The school has counseling services available to speak with students. Principal Gagnon encouraged parents to talk openly with their children about the tragedy.
"Children learn how to deal with grief by watching adults deal with grief," she said. "Please do not be afraid to express your emotions in front of your children. Healthy outlets of emotions can be a valuable lesson for them."
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