3 Florida Educators In One District Die Of Covid-19 Complications Within 24 Hours

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Three educators employed by one school district in Florida lost their lives to Covid-19-related complications last week — all within 24 hours of each other.

All three were employed by Broward County Public Schools, and two reportedly worked in the same school.

Schools in the Broward County district are not yet back in session, and many parents and school employees may be already struggling with fear and anxiety about the return.

Understandably so.

How many Florida teachers died of Covid-19 this past week?

Over the course of one week, Broward County three educators — two teachers and one teaching assistant — are reported to have died of complications related to Covid-19 within somewhere between 24 to 36 hours of one another.

A press release issued by the Broward Teachers Union stated a 48-year-old teacher and 49-year-teacher assistant worked at the same elementary school, while the other teacher, also 48, was originally said to work at a high school but now appears to have been a third grade teacher at a second elementary school. All three were Black females, and none contracted the virus while on campus.

Early reports based on information from the Broward Teachers Union incorrectly stated four educators had died in that time frame, but the fourth person was later identified as a "female Broward County Public Schools graduate with close ties to the school district through her job."

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Data collected by the Florida Education Association (FEA) indicates that 14-15 active Florida educators have died from Covid-19 complications since July 2021. Their roles include an assistant principal, five teachers, one teaching assistant, one bus driver, one locksmith, two maintenance workers and three custodians.

FEA's information is gathered from various news reports found online and may not show the whole picture.

Rosalind Osgood, Chair of the Broward County School Board, estimates there may have been more deaths they still don't know about.

"On Tuesday the district was contacted by different families to inform us that individuals had passed away with COVID," she said, “I’m certain that there are probably others and that their families have not contacted the district at this point."

All three educators are reported to have been unvaccinated.

Anna Fusco, Broward Teachers Union President, stated that all three educators had not been vaccinated.

She added that one "was really looking forward" to getting vaccinated, but had not yet been cleared to do so by her doctor.

Osgood also confirmed that the teaching assistant and one of the teachers who died worked at Dillard Elementary School in Fort Lauderdale. The other teacher has now been identified as Janice Wright, a kindergarten teacher at Pinewood Elementary School.

Fortunately, Florida's vaccination rate is increasing.

In addition to Florida being the epicenter of the pandemic, Florida's vaccination rates have been low.

As of August 10, 2021, 49% of Florida’s population has been fully vaccinated, with 60% of the state having received at least one dose.

Florida is ranked 24 out of all 50 US states and Washington, DC by the percentage of the population that is fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

"[There] are a lot of people that have still not gotten the vaccination," Osgood said. "And it is becoming a deadly thing to not be vaccinated."

As of August 12, 2021, the state of Florida is at a seven day average of 21,244 cases, which is higher than it has ever been.

"You need to get vaccinated," says Osgood, "This disease will kill you or leave with you a lifelong complication that not only impacts you but also impacts your family and the people that you love and care about."

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Florida's mask mandate ban in public schools is causing issues.

Schools continue to fight Gov. Ron DeSantis’ mask mandate ban in public schools across Florida.

As of now, parents have the right to allow their children to “opt out” from wearing a mask in school.

The Broward County School Board recently voted 8 to 1 to to require students to wear masks, pushing back against the ban on mask mandates in school.

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School officials, staff, and students still are alarmed by this new rule regarding opting out. Without the protection of masks, students and staff are at a higher risk of contracting the virus.

Children under 12 are not yet eligible for the vaccine.

Children under 12 do not yet qualify for vaccination, which may be worrying for teachers, students and parents who are fearful of virus transmission.

Fusco said the news of the teacher’s deaths are “extremely frightening,” adding, “I hear this every day. Whether in Broward or elsewhere.”

Florida currently has the highest rate of children hospitalized with Covid-19 in the country.

Healthcare officials are still advocating for the vaccine.

Many in the US are still divided on whether or not to get vaccinated, even with the delta variant causing case numbers to surge again.

The CDC still recommends eligible people from ages 12 and up get their vaccine.

It's not too late to get vaccinated if you or anyone you know is still on the fence. There's a lot of misinformation spreading about getting the vaccine.

The CDC has even listed ways to talk with your friends and family who have yet to get the vaccine, should you need some guidance on the topic.

Being vaccinated is an important way to ensure you're minimizing your risk — and that of others — of contracting or being negatively impacted by the virus.

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Izzy Casey is a writer who covers pop culture, entertainment, and news. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from the Iowa Writers' Workshop. Her poems have been published in New York Tyrant, Gulf Coast: A Journal of Literature and Fine Arts, Black Warrior Review, Bennington Review, BOAAT, and elsewhere.