The Washington Post reports that at least six educators from places like Missouri, Mississippi, South Carolina, Iowa and Oklahoma have passed away since the start of the fall semester. It’s a stark reminder of the threat still looming over a country that has struggled to contain the COVID-19 pandemic even as many areas attempt to re-open.
It’s not clear whether or not the teachers were infected on the job, but several quarantined after their positive diagnosis out of an abundance of caution.
34-year-old AshLee DeMarinis was one of the teachers who died of complications from the novel coronavirus, three weeks after falling ill while teaching at John Evans Middle School in Potosi, Missouri. Her sister told the Post she loved crafts and was concerned about the pandemic but loved her job in special education.
28-year-old Demetria “Demi” Bannister died of COVID-19 complications in Columbia, South Carolina this week. She taught third grade and led the student choir in addition to coaching aspiring singers, according to The State.
Tom Slade was a high school history teacher in Vancleave, Mississippi who passed away of COVID-19 complications when he was 53 years old. His students told local reporters that they remembered him as a great teacher and a lover of great coffee. His family said he also had a fondness for bad puns.
In Oxford, Mississippi, 42-year-old football coach Nacoma James passed away during students’ first week back on campus. The district superintendent said he remembered James as “a loving person and a brilliant young man.”
62-year-old special ed teacher Teresa Horn passed away in Tahlequah, Oklahoma of a heart attack after she tested positive for COVID-19. Her husband told reporters that “Her first love was Jesus and second love was Elvis Presley until I came along.”
The Des Moines Register reports that a teacher at Ruby Van Meter School for intellectually disabled students also passed away, though the teacher’s name was not released.