A school district in Georgia is mourning the loss of two educators who died within hours of each other from Covid-19.
Dana Johnson and Cynthia Lindsey, employees in Cobb County Schools in metro Atlanta, both lost their battle against Covid-19 on Thursday, according to Connie Jackson, president of the Cobb County Association of Educators. GoFundMe pages for the two educators confirmed the deaths.
Johnson was a teacher at Kemp Elementary School and suffered from pre-existing conditions. Lindsey was a paraprofessional at Sedalia Park Elementary.
A third educator in the county, Patrick Key, died on Christmas Day from Covid-19. An art scholarship has since been established in his honor.
“Teachers are willing to take a bullet for our kids. We shouldn’t have to be willing to, in the middle of a pandemic, die from a disease because we want to be teachers,” Jackson said.
In a statement to CNN, the Cobb County School District said Johnson and Lindsey were valuable members of their team and expressed condolences to their families.
“Every member of our school community has been impacted by the ongoing battle against COVID-19,” said the school district in the statement. “We continue to ask our staff, students, and families to follow public health guidance — wear masks and social distance — so we can stay as healthy as possible.”
Teachers push for all-virtual classes
Georgia has struggled with the pandemic, including Cobb County.
The county of about 760,000 people has recorded 57,000 cases and 672 Covid-related deaths, the Cobb County Covid dashboard said.
So many students and staff have had to quarantine recently that the school district canceled all in-person classes the week of January 18.
In-person and virtual classes are expected to resume on Monday, January 25. In an announcement on Friday, the district said it is committed to offering face-to-face and remote learning options for all families.
“The separation period will allow our staff and students to return on January 25 after a time of quarantine, better prepared to teach and learn in face-to-face and remote classrooms to honor the instructional delivery models our families have chosen,” said the school district.
But some teachers and parents want all-virtual classes.
A group of them stood outside the school district offices last Thursday during a board meeting to protest. And more than 6,500 people have signed an online petition for all-virtual classes.
Jackson told CNN she has been speaking out at every board meeting trying to present the school board with different teaching alternatives. One of those options includes keeping at-risk educators teaching from home.
“It’s just wrong to keep risking people’s lives,” said Jackson.
A Cobb County elementary school teacher, Justin Julian, told CNN the teachers of Cobb County have been emotionally impacted by the deaths of their coworkers, especially those who are worried about the virus.
“It’s a lot to take on our shoulders and it’s exhausting trying to fight this fight all the time,” he said.
Julian said teachers want the option of working from home.
“A lot of the teachers want virtual, they want a virtual environment. They think that that’s the safest for not only for them, but the community and to lessen the community spread,” Julian said.