Teacher Deaths Heighten Worries Over COVID

At least 6 since school year began, but transmission not necessarily related to schools
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 10, 2020 12:19 PM CDT
6 Teachers Have Died of COVID Since Classes Resumed
AshLee DeMarinis is shown in an undated photo provided by her sister.   (Jennifer Heissenbuttel via AP)

At least six US teachers have died from coronavirus complications since the start of the school year in what the Daily Beast sees as "an ominous sign of what's to come as students return to classrooms across the country." There is no clear evidence, however, that the teachers picked up the virus at school, reports the Washington Post. Demetria Bannister, 28, a third-grade teacher at Windsor Elementary School in Columbia, SC, had last visited the school on Aug. 28, in preparation for online classes that began Aug. 31. She was diagnosed with COVID-19 on Friday and died on Monday, per CNN. Another young teacher died in Missouri on Sunday after three weeks on a ventilator. AshLee DeMarinis, 34, who had asthma, taught social skills and special education at John Evans Middle School in Potosi. The AP reports she had last visited the school weeks before classes began.

Teresa Horn, 62, who taught special education at Tahlequah High School in Oklahoma, called in sick on Aug. 20 and died about a week later, per KTUL. The local school district has since reported numerous COVID-19 cases, per the Post. The death of another special education teacher in Des Moines, Iowa, was confirmed last week. The unidentified teacher "fell ill after an out-of-state trip," per the Des Moines Register. Middle school basketball coach Nacoma James, 42, died in Oxford, Miss., on Aug. 6, before returning to school, per the AP. Tom Slade, 52, a high school history teacher in Vancleave, Miss., later died after weeks of in-person teaching, but is believed to have contracted the virus at church. Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, has stressed that proper precautions, such as mask requirements, are needed in order for schools to open their doors. (Read more coronavirus stories.)

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