School slams 'insensitive' Covid claim after student's sudden death

·3-min read

Blatant misinformation surrounding the death of a Year 12 student at a Sydney high school has spread like wildfire on social media.

On Saturday, Thomas Van Dijk, a Year 12 pupil at St Pius X College in Chatswood, died after suffering a cardiac arrest.

Rumours quickly spread that his death was a result of a Covid-19 vaccine.

It prompted the school to issue a statement dismissing such reports spreading on social media.

"Despite the clear communication from the College, there have been many insensitive and grossly inaccurate reports on social media," St Pius X College principal, Mr John Couani, said in a statement on Tuesday.

Thomas Van Dijk, pictured left and right, died after suffering a cardiac arrest. Source: St Pius X College
Thomas Van Dijk died after suffering ca ardiac arrest, while swimming with his family. He was not vaccinated against Covid-19. Source: St Pius X College

Both St Pius X and the Van Dijk family said they wanted to make it clear Thomas was not vaccinated against Covid-19 and he was not eligible, due to his age.

St Pius X College is also not located in any of the LGAs of concern, meaning students are not part of the vaccination program being offered to Year 12 Students by the NSW Government.

Thomas also tested negative for Covid-19 when he was at the hospital, and there were no mental health or wellbeing concerns.

"It is very disappointing that a statement such as this needs to be made and the College now asks that respect is shown to allow for the family and community to grieve the loss of this brilliant and talented young man," Mr Couani said.

"May perpetual light shine upon Tom, may he rest in peace."

Thomas Van Dijk was in Year 12 at St Pius X College, he is being remembered as an
Thomas Van Dijk was in Year 12 at St Pius X College. He is being remembered as an outstanding student, gifted sportsman and musician. Source: St Pius College

Teen suffered cardiac arrest after swimming

Speaking to The North Shore Times, Mr Couani said Thomas was swimming with his mum, dad and friend on Saturday.

Once he was back on the boat, he started suffering from chest pain and was taken to Royal North Shore hospital, despite doctor's best efforts, he died during the night.

The principal said the misinformation being shared on social media was "horrific" and the student's death was "purely a health issue".

“The school did not force students to be vaccinated — the school is not in a hotspot or local government area of concern, nor was it eligible for the priority vaccination program — we’ve made no statement calling for vaccinations of students,” he said.

The statement released on the College's Facebook page on Tuesday was inundated with people expressing their support for the Van Dijk family.

"The school community is profoundly grieving Tom’s passing, but also celebrating his wonderful gifts and we pay tribute to Tom as an outstanding academic student, gifted sportsman and accomplished musician," Mr Couani wrote.

The school declined to comment further when approached by Yahoo News Australia.

Today Show host, Karl Stefanovic, urged people to stop sharing misinformation surrounding Thomas's death, calling out the "thousands of faceless keyboard warriors" who misrepresented the facts to fit their anti-vaccine agenda.

"Imagine the added stress on that poor young man's family… Their pain and their tragedy made worse by lies on social media. It has to stop,” he said on-air on Wednesday.

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