"It's a really hard time, especially in the morning whenever the students first see each other and see the empty seat and some of them will be hearing about it for the first time," Principal Ryan Kendall said. "To lose someone so young is incredibly difficult."
School officials confirm third grader Zainab Momin, pictured here, passed away from the flu Tuesday night.
"You hear a lot about the flu season and otherwise healthy people who are losing their lives in some cases. You always think it is a very distant thing, somewhere else that happens, but having it happen here in our own community, it really does take a toll," Kendall said.
Kendall says the eight-year-old had a personality that drew a lot of people to her.
"Zainab was a delightful little girl," he said. "She had just a wonderful smile and a great attitude. Our school family here is devastated."
The focus of the Pike Road school's faculty and staff now is to comfort these children who have lost a friend, and help them navigate through the grieving process.
"We definitely want to make sure that everyone knows that it is perfectly fine to be sad and that we have counselors, ministers, pastors available to talk if they need to," Kendall said.
The eight-year-old's passing is believed to be the first pediatric influenza death in Alabama this flu season.