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Officials Ignore Final Wish of Teacher Who Died of COVID

They refused to wear masks during moment of silence
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 26, 2021 8:17 PM CST
Updated Jan 27, 2021 12:03 AM CST

(Newser) – The widow of a kindergarten teacher in Georgia says it was "painful and insulting" when the superintendent and two school board members refused to honor his dying wish, even for a few seconds. Patrick Key, 53, died from COVID-19 on Christmas Day after almost six weeks in the hospital. His obituary stated that he "felt passionate about wearing masks during the pandemic" and urged people to honor his memory by wearing masks "to protect others and yourself, " USA Today reports. But when district employee Jennifer Susko asked Cobb County Board of Education members to wear masks for a moment of silence during a meeting Thursday, Superintendent Chris Ragsdale and two members remained maskless during 13 seconds of silence. The other six board members were already wearing masks.

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"I'd like the record to reflect that some of you did not wear a mask, the final request of a Cobb teacher who died. Your actions in these two minutes have spoken louder than words," Susko said. "We see where your priorities are. Please know that many of us reject your false gratitude for staff since we seem disposable to many of you." Ragsdale declined to comment on the meeting, but a school district rep said board members had complied with a policy allowing them to remove masks if they are physically distanced. "All it had to be was a few seconds of a demonstration of kindness and empathy and they couldn’t even do it," Heather Welch, Key's niece, tells the Washington Post. On the day of the meeting, two other teachers in the district died from COVID.

(Read more coronavirus stories.)

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