A 28-year-old elementary school teacher in Columbia, South Carolina died this week from complications from Covid-19, authorities said.
Demetria “Demi” Bannister, who taught third grade at Windsor Elementary School, died Monday.
“With a heavy heart … administrators are sharing this information courtesy of Ms Bannister’s parents who wish to remind others of the seriousness of this illness caused by the coronavirus,” said Libby Roof, spokesperson for the Richland County School District, in a press release. Guardian.
The last time Bannister attended Windsor Elementary School was August 28. This date marked the last day of work for the instructors before the start of the school year. She started the school year by teaching her students virtually from home.
School district officials said they discovered Bannister tested positive for Covid-19 on September 4. They then proceeded with the contact tracing and notification, the state newspaper reported. It is not known where Bannister contracted Covid-19.
The school district is completely virtual, so there hasn’t been close contact with the students, Roof said. Following contact tracing, three employees were quarantined. Roof said she had no information about their medical condition “because it is private medical information”.
In addition to her teaching duties, Bannister was the leader of the student choir and organized a club for aspiring singers, the newspaper said. Comments on a commemorative webpage described Bannister as kind and happy.
“Ms. Bannister was my teacher and she was my favorite teacher. I wish I was still in elementary school to say goodbye. My heart goes out to the family. Her grandmother is all I have left of her and Ms. Bannister, ”said one stakeholder.
Another wrote, “Demi and I were sorority sisters. We made friends years ago at a sorority convention where (of course) she used her amazing Disney Princess voice to bring people together. A parent of Bannister’s former classmates said, “She has always been such a sweet and happy girl.”
Bannister’s death comes as parents and educators across the country continue to grapple with safety concerns over the reopening of schools. The Washington Post reported that at least five other teachers have died from Covid-19 since August. While it is not known if any of them contracted coronavirus at school, their deaths have heightened concerns about whether campus environments will cause epidemics.
In New York City, which has the largest public school district in the United States, a teacher and a school employee tested positive 11 days before in-person classes resumed, according to NBC New York.
While efforts to prevent epidemics are in place, such as masks and tests, Mayor Bill de Blasio has reportedly said that “of course” there will be clusters of coronavirus when classes begin. Some educators fear prevention efforts will not be enough, with one noting Gothamist that the schools department “uses us as science experiments.”
Meanwhile, the issue of reopening schools continues to be highly politicized in the United States.
President and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos had previously told public school districts that federal money would be withheld if they did not fully reopen for the 2020-2021 school year.
Neither Trump nor DeVos have unilateral control over the funding of federal schools. They also don’t have the power to force schools to open at a certain time or in a particular way, the Washington Post reported.
Trump, however, continues to throw money at the discussion of reopening schools, saying in a tweet Thursday: “Democrats, OPEN SCHOOLS (SAFE), NOW!” When schools are closed, let the money follow the child (FAMILY). Why should schools be paid when they are closed? They should not!