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Three Broward County, Florida educators die of COVID-19 just days ahead of classroom return

Officials said none of the educators were vaccinated

Several Florida elementary schools will be forever changed after three instructors died from COVID-related complications just days before the school year was set to start.

Two teachers and a teacher’s assistant were set to return back to school on August 18 but lost their lives just a week before their return. The names of the educators were not released.

(Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)

“It’s extremely frightening. I hear this every day. Whether in Broward or elsewhere. We’re the 5th largest union in the country,” Broward Teachers Union President Anna Fusco told CBS4 Miami.

One of the teachers and the teacher assistant, 48 and 49, were from an elementary school, the statement said. The other teacher, 48, was also from an elementary school, according to CNN.

“It was a sad day for three schools because our teachers walked back on campus with their principals and they got the news from their families that they wouldn’t be reporting because they passed away from COVID,” Fusco said to CBS4 Miami.

Broward County Public Schools expresses deepest sympathy to all the families impacted by COVID-19 as this disease continues to have a profound impact in our community.

— Broward Schools (@browardschools) August 13, 2021

The two teachers and teaching assistant all died within a 24-hour period, union officials said. The union corrected a previous statement from their Fusco which incorrectly stated that three teachers and one teacher’s assistant died earlier this week from COVID-19 complications.

According to Fusco, the teachers did not contract the virus at school. Some had contracted the virus from families that were exposed and spread it to them.

Broward County Public Schools COVID-19 dashboard shows there have been at least 151 COVID cases reported since Aug. 1: 138 employees and 13 students.

The school board voted this week to maintain a mask mandate for schools, despite Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ executive order banning the mandates in the state.

On Tuesday, August 10, the School Board held a Special School Board Meeting to approve the District’s School Reopening Plan: Phase 3 and voted to uphold its previously approved mask mandate for students, staff and visitor for the beginning of the 2021/22 school year. pic.twitter.com/DoAJszbqdf

— Broward Schools (@browardschools) August 10, 2021

“It really hits because we’ve been in this conversation about masking up in schools; our own elected governor acting like masks are not necessary,” Fusco said.

The coronavirus continues to spread rapidly in Florida, setting new records daily for case numbers and hospitalizations in the state. As of Wednesday, Florida is reportedly just shy of 25,000 new cases, according to the latest data available from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We got information on Tuesday that was reported to us. I know of three of those teachers that passed away from COVID in Broward County,” School Board Chair Rosalind Osgood said to CNN.

Osgood said she was aware of the deaths of the teachers and feels that removing the mask mandate is too risky.

“The eight of us on our board are adamant that we cannot have people in schools without masks,” Osgood told CNN Friday, “because we are living backlash of people dying with COVID.” 

“You can’t take a risk with peoples’ lives,” she said. “We feel strongly that the lives of our students and staff are invaluable, and we’re not willing to play Russian roulette with their lives or take a risk of losing people because we have people in schools without masks.”

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