The excitement surrounding Natalie’s first day of preschool last week has quickly changed to shock and heartbreak as we learned that one of her classmates drowned after falling into the school pool on Monday.
When I went to pick Natalie up at 1pm on Monday, I noticed that there were more cars than usual (some of the children stay the whole day until 5pm) and there seemed to be anxiety on the faces of the teachers and staff. I overheard some mothers saying that they had been told that school was ending early, and then I noticed two ambulances in the parking lot. When I asked what was going on, I couldn’t get any answers. I called the school later and I was told that there was an accident and I would be told more at an appropriate time.
For some reason, they had not called either myself or Muigai to tell us school was ending early. Truthfully, I am very glad they forgot to call us because they were telling parents, “Was your child at school today? Please come pick them up as soon as possible, there has been an incident and school is closing early.” I think I would have been completely panicked if I had received a call like that. I am grateful that by the time I realized something had happened, I had Natalie safe and healthy at my side.
The story is receiving a lot of media attention, and there has been a story in the paper every day for the past 4 days about the school and the young girl Sunshine. We learned what had happened through the newspapers since the school was still not communicating any details to the parents.
We had a parents meeting at the school yesterday where we learned that four of the teachers had been arrested for negligence and the school could legally not talk about the details of what happened until the teachers were released, which was supposed to happen last evening. They claimed that the fence around the pool had been completed (the pool had just been built), all of the gates were locked, and there were 9 children playing in the sandbox right next to the pool being supervised by two teachers when it happened. They claimed that the details given in the newspaper were not accurate, but they could not provide us clear information on exactly how Sunshine ended up in the pool. (the newspapers claimed that she wandered away from class and was in the pool for 30 minutes before being found, which the administration says is not medically possible since they were performing CPR for one hour and were able to get a pulse back at one point).
Of course, all the parents were frustrated and do not feel comfortable sending our children back until we know exactly what happened. The administration said they would communicate more once the teachers are released and they are able to speak with the teachers. The school has been closed all week and they are hoping to reopen on Monday. They have already installed numerous additional safety measures for the pool and the school in general to try to ensure that something like this will not happen again.
Please pray for Sunshine’s family and the school community in dealing with this tragic accident. Please also pray for wisdom for us as we try to determine if we should keep Natalie at the school or find another school for her to go to. We have been very shaken up by this – as any parent knows, there is always anxiety with taking your child to school for the first time and entrusting others with the safety and well being of your child, so the timing of this just one week after Natalie started school is making me nervous to send her anywhere!