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Freshman football player at Baker High School dies; students will learn virtually until after Labor Day

WAFB file photo Baker High School in Baker, La.
WAFB file photo Baker High School in Baker, La.
Published: Aug. 25, 2021 at 3:45 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 25, 2021 at 5:42 PM CDT
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UPDATE: All Baker High School students will learn virtually until Sept. 7, Superintendent Dr. De`Ette Perry tells WAFB’s Lester Duhé.

BAKER, La. (WAFB) - A ninth-grade football player at Baker High School has died, the superintendent of Baker School District tells WAFB.

The student had reportedly been battling COVID-19. However, an autopsy will be needed to determine if that is what caused his death.

Superintendent Dr. De`Ette Perry said the student died Wednesday, Aug. 25.

“We are saddened by the loss of this student and we extend condolences to the family,” Dr. Perry said.

Dr. Perry is asking the community to pray for the teens family.

“We are asking our families to be prayerful and to lift up the families that have experienced this loss. It is a loss to all of us. So I ask for our community to wrap around their arms around the family at this moment. And that is what we should focus on, taking care of our family at this time,” said Dr. Perry.

Baker Mayor Darnell Waites identified the student as Patrick Sanders, 14.

“The loss of such a young life is always a tragedy and the preventable loss of that young life is heartbreaking. Young Mr. Sanders had his entire life ahead of him; one full of ambition and promise. The sorrow I feel for his family and loved ones is immense.

To his family, please accept my deepest sympathies and know that my prayers are with you now and always. May God heal you in His infinite graces, and bless you with His love,” Mayor Waites said.

RELATED: Infant dies of COVID-19 in Louisiana, LDH reports

School officials tell WAFB the rest of the Baker High School football team is quarantining.

Superintendent Dr. De`Ette Perry says all Baker High students will switch to virtual learning until September 7. She says there are only 3 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the high school.

“It’s not an outbreak, it’s out of caution that we will provide virtual learning for our high school students. They can return on September 7th,” said Dr. Perry.

She says the district has been taking precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 this school year. Including, requiring students to wear a mask, use hand sanitizer, wash their hands, social distance, and even undergo temperature checks, before they enter the building. And she is urging parents to keep their children at home, if they are sick.

Other parents in the school system are frustrated with the constant outbreaks and having to get their children tested for the coronavirus.

“Every day you get different calls whether to send your kids to school or not. Soon as you get to school, work or something like that, all of a sudden, the school is calling it’s another outbreak,” said Rochika Profit, Baker School District parent.

Profit has four children in the Baker School system, three are currently in quarantine.

“I’m having to take off at least twice a week to take them to the Urgent Care and to the hospital, wherever we can go to test a patients,” said Profit.

Two of her older children go to Baker High and will be virtual for two weeks. She says she is running out of options.

“It’s like, no way are we winning. If we send them to school, we’re going to be scared they get the virus, if you have them at home, we don’t know if they’re on the computers or not, or doing their work virtual,” said Profit.

“Taking care of students is a serious job, is a serious responsibility, and we don’t take that lightly. That our parents put their children in our hands to take care of them. So we care for all of our students. Before COVID and especially during this pandemic time,” said Dr. Perry.

The team’s upcoming jamboree, scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 26 against White Castle, has been canceled.

“Our football players have been quarantined and they too will be on virtual learning through September 6, which is Labor Day, and they will return in person on September 7,” said Dr. Perry.

East Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome released a statement:

“Today, our parish learned of the heartbreaking loss of a young Baker resident due to COVID-19. Every death from this virus is one met with immense sorrow, especially the passing of a ninth grader from our community.

At this point, every resident of our community has been impacted by COVID-19. This goes to show that even our youngest and most resilient loved ones are at risk. It is my hope that we can come together to prevent further loss.

My prayers are with the family, friends and community of Patrick Sanders.”

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