three Broward County, Florida, Educators Die Of COVID: Coronavirus Updates: NPR
A fleet of Broward County school buses is parked in a parking lot in Pembroke Pines, Florida on July 21, 2020. Three educators in the district have died as a result of the coronavirus. Johnny Louis / Getty Images Hide caption
Johnny Louis / Getty Images
Johnny Louis / Getty Images
Less than a week before schools in Florida’s Broward County reopened, three educators died from the effects of the coronavirus, according to local union officials. The deaths were all recorded within 24 hours, according to union officials representing the local school district.
Broward Teachers Union President Anna Fusco said the start of the new school year had been a mixture of emotions as the first day approached.
“All the excitement about the return only went through our teachers when we went back to work on Wednesday,” Fusco told NPR on Saturday by phone. “And then the feeling of fear that our governor is disrupting the security protocols and trying to block the mask mandate because he knows it’s an extra layer of protection. And then the deaths that have been reported. “
Fusco said Pinewood elementary school teacher, 48, and union secretary Janice Wright, Katina Jones, 49, and Yolonda Hudson-Williams, 49, teaching assistant, also from Dillard Elementary, were the educators who lived their lives in the past Week of COVID-19.
None of them were vaccinated, said Fusco.
Schools in Broward County are expected to reopen Wednesday for the new school year.
In an act of defiance directed against Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, the Broward County School Board voted 8-1 on Tuesday to make the wearing of masks mandatory for students, staff and visitors in all county schools and facilities, reported the member station WLRN. The board allowed parents to refuse their children to wear a mask.
DeSantis has threatened to withhold payment from superintendents and board members who oppose an executive order banning mask mandates in schools.
“He’s only pushing his political agenda forward to get the same voters who voted for Donald Trump,” Fusco said of the governor. “I think because they scream louder, [he thinks] there must be more of them than the ingredients that this virus actually ingests [seriously] and want to be sure. “
Coronavirus cases have increased in Florida in recent weeks, spurred on by the highly contagious Delta variant.
Between August 6 and August 12, state officials registered 151,415 new cases of the virus, including 14,675 in Broward County.
According to data released Friday by the Florida Department of Health, 74% of Broward County’s 12-year-old and older population are fully vaccinated – well above the state’s total of 65%.
Fusco said she was currently “torn” over the rule of vaccinations, although she said she could change her mind once the Food & Drug Administration fully approves the vaccines.
“I don’t think we should be in this position now to put them in charge – especially not me, the union president of 18,000 collective bargaining members,” she said. “But a mask requirement? You are not injecting anything into your body.
In neighboring Palm Beach County, more than 1,000 students were quarantined this week after an outbreak of the virus when schools opened there.