Teachers in at least five states have died from COVID-19 since the fall semester started, The Washington Post reported Thursday.
At least six teachers across Iowa, Missouri, Mississippi, Oklahoma and South Carolina have died since early August as students return for the school year. It is unknown whether these teachers became infected at school, but several attempted to quarantine to avoid infecting other students and educators.
Special education teacher AshLee DeMarinis died on Sunday after showing symptoms four days after the start of school for John Evans Middle School in Potosi, Mo. The 34-year-old, who suffered from asthma, spent three weeks on a ventilator in the hospital, the Post reported.
In Columbia, S.C., third grade teacher Demetria “Demi” Bannister from Windsor Elementary School died this week after experiencing complications from COVID-19, according to newspaper The State. High school history teacher Tom Slade, 53, who worked at Vancleave High School in Mississippi, died on Sunday of the coronavirus, the Biloxi Sun Herald reported.
Assistant high school football coach Nacoma James, 42, also died of the virus. He was a teacher at Lafayette Middle School, Mississippi Today reported.
Theresa Horn, a 62-year-old special education teacher who taught at Tahlequah Public Schools in Oklahoma, died from a heart attack after testing positive for COVID-19, according to ABC affiliate KTUL. The school district conducted classes virtually for two days after her death, and since then, announced at least 11 identified coronavirus cases and instructed dozens to quarantine.
Another special education teacher died a week before virtual classes started in Des Moines, Iowa, according to the Des Moines Register.
The deaths of these teachers come as many schools across the country have reopened for in-person classes, virtual classes or a hybrid program after shutting down in the spring from the coronavirus pandemic.
Schools have been left to balance education with safety, with several schools sending students home or to quarantine after COVID-19 outbreaks.