A kindergarten student from Saskatoon’s École Dundonald School is dead after he was found in a pond near the elementary school.
The city’s public school board said at a news conference Monday the student went missing during recess. He was found in the pond shortly after police were called to the scene, at about 10:50 a.m. — or about 10 minutes after recess ended. He was pronounced dead in hospital.
“This is an extraordinary loss for the student’s family and has deeply impacted our staff members and our school division,” a letter sent to Dundonald parents read Monday. “We know it will affect students and families as well.”
Eight staff members, plus additional educational assistants assigned to certain kids, were supervising during the recess. The pond is located about 50 metres from the school’s playground.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family at this time — the time of this devastating loss,” Saskatoon Public Schools director of education Barry MacDougall said.
“We know that there are questions about the circumstances around the event. The office of the chief coroner is investigating the incident and we are providing our full cooperation, and we’re also looking into the incident internally.”
Parents at the school began receiving messages on their Everbridge emergency system at about 11:30 a.m., saying 911 was called for a student. A subsequent message said family members of the student were with the child in hospital.
“It was pretty scary. You don’t know if your kids OK. You don’t know what the story is,” Kim Stav, a parent, said.
Parents were initially told kids were not allowed to leave the school and that lunch would be brought in, but at around 12:40 p.m., a message said classes are cancelled and that parents could pick up their children.
“As events unfolded, it became obvious the best people to look after our students at this time were their families and so classes were cancelled in the afternoon,” MacDougall said.
Both the Saskatoon’s mayor’s office and the province have called the incident a tragedy.
“As a mother, I cannot imagine what his parents are going through, and I offer my deepest condolences, and condolences on behalf of all of government,” Education Minister Bronwyn Eyre said.
“This is very sad and tragic news. My thoughts, along with all of City Council’s, are with the family and with the school community as we come to terms with this loss,” Mayor Charlie Clark said in a statement.
Police do not consider the death suspicious.
MacDougall did not refer to the incident as a drowning Monday. He said officials are awaiting the coroner’s report before commenting on certain details.
Staff and students at the school will be interviewed as part of the school board’s investigation, he said.
About 500 students attend Dundonald.
School is set to resume Tuesday. The kindergarten class of the student who died is not scheduled for the day.
--- based on reporting from Angelina Irinici