School teachers are beginning to die of COVID-19

teachers dying of covid-19
Photo via alamosbasement/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

At least a dozen teachers have died since early August across the U.S. from the coronavirus, according to the Washington Post. While it’s been difficult to contact trace where each teacher was infected, the deaths have further instilled fear in educators about in-person learning. It’s clear, though: Teachers are dying of COVID-19. 

The Post reported that teachers in Missouri, Mississippi, South Carolina, Iowa, and Oklahoma have died from the virus, including 35-year-old special education teacher AshLee DeMarinis in Missouri. 

DeMarinis caught COVID-19 shortly after returning to school last month. She was swiftly hospitalized and ventilated. Three weeks later, she died. 

First reported by the Sun Herald, a 53-year-old high school history teacher named Tom Slade from Missouri died of the virus on Sept. 6. Missouri football coach Nacoma James, 42, died during the first week of school in August after coaching football practices all summer, according to Mississippi Today

Two other teachers died of COVID-19 recently in Mississippi, according to CBS News. The state has reported more than 600 cases among school teachers and staff. A 28-year-old teacher from South Carolina named Demi Bannister was diagnosed with COVID-19 on Sep. 4 and died three days later. In late October, another South Carolina teacher—a 26-year veteran named Margie Kidd—died. In October, a third-grade teacher from North Carolina named Julie Davis died from the coronavirus.

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, told CBS News that schools should not be open if they can’t enforce safety guidelines, such as mask mandates and social distancing. 

“If community spread is too high as it is in Missouri and Mississippi, if you don’t have the infrastructure of testing and if you don’t have the safeguards that prevent the spread of viruses in the school, we believe that you cannot reopen in person,” Weingarten said.

Meanwhile, the head of the teachers union in New York City threatened to take Mayor Bill de Blasio to court if schools in high-risk areas aren’t shut down. One elementary school in Brooklyn, meanwhile, had to make plans to restart in-person classes while still mourning the loss of one of its educators.

At the same time, kids are increasingly getting the virus, too. A new report released by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association said the number of COVID-19 cases in kids surpassed more than 500,000 in September. Positive cases have increased by 16% in the past two weeks. 

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Sources: Washington Post, CBS News, Sun Herald, Mississippi Today

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