Arizona Teacher Dies of COVID-19, 2 Co-Teachers Infected
Teachers are heroes too. Sadly, not all teachers die heroically. Some die of deaths; they never imagined they would be caught up with.
The 61-year old Arizona elementary school teacher Kimberley Chavez Lopez Byrd returned to teaching after retiring. Everyone who knew her and had worked with her respected her.
This was what superintendent of the Hayden Winkelman Unified School District Jeff Gregorich told reporters.
Lopez Byrd shared a classroom with Jena Martinez-Inzunza and Angela Skillings for a summer school program. They were all teaching virtual summer school to kindergarten, first-grade, and second-grade students with school shutdown.
Lopez Byrd tested positive for COVID-19 on June 13, and she was put on a ventilator the next day. She died on June 16.
Byrd also had lupus, diabetes, and asthma, according to reports.
Both Inzunza and Skillings also tested positive for the disease and are still recovering from the illness.
"They took extra precautions because Jena is a cancer survivor and has a compromised immune system. They followed the CDC guidelines and more," Gregorich was quoted in a report.
The teacher's colleagues are now saying her death serves as a warning to those who push for schools to reopen in the fall.
Gregorich told the Arizona Republic that they would lose more teachers if schools were to open in the fall.
Arizona Schools Reopening
School board leaders and medical professionals want to push back school openings to at least Oct. 1.
Arizona governor Doug Ducey pushed back the reopening until Aug.17.
But school board members said they wanted to wait for a downward trend in the COVID-19 before reopening schools. Industry experts say the current environment is still dangerous for children and educators.
School board members in the Alhambra Unified School District Adam Lopez Falk said they are afraid of going back to school.
Tempe Elementary School District Board Member Monica Trejo said that they want their children educated this coming year.
"But until Arizona shows a downward trend in identified COVID-19 cases, it's just too dangerous for our kiddos and educators," Trejo was quoted in a report.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that reopening schools have the "highest risk" for spreading the virus.
Arizona School Board Members sent a letter to Ducey requesting for a statewide closure of buildings and classrooms. They may only open the said buildings if data show a reduction of risk and infection in the community.
They also requested the governor and other concerned leaders to fund distance learning at the same level as in-person teaching without requiring face-to-face classes five days a week.
The board members also said that remote learning is the only way to ensure the safety of students and educators during the pandemic.
Arizona's school superintendent Kathy Hoffman expressed doubts about whether Arizona schools are ready.
"Today's discussion at the White House Summit on Safely Reopening America's Schools did not reflect the magnitude or severity of Arizona's growing public health crisis," she was quoted in an AZ central report.
Hoffman said she expects "more aggressive action" from Ducey to help lower the spread of COVID-19.
Arizona COVID-19 Caes
Arizona has around 124,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 2,249 deaths.
Maricopa County has a higher number of COVID-19 cases with 81, 216 positive cases, and 1, 140 deaths.
Next is Pima County with 11, 856 positive cases, and 327 deaths.
The third highest is Yuma county with 8, 392 cases, and 154 deaths.
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