After AZ teacher Kim Byrd dies of COVID, questions over school reopening

Jul 13, 2020 by

An Arizona teacher is dead after contracting COVID-19. Three teachers tested positive after teaching in the same classroom.

Kimberley Chavez Lopez Byrd and Jesse Byrd Sr. pictured in an undated photograph. Kimberley Byrd was an adored educator in Hayden-Winkelman.

Kids begged to go Mrs. Byrd’s classroom to do art projects.

Every year, Mrs. Byrd taught folklórico dance to her first-grade students.

And though she had once retired, Mrs. Byrd loved teaching so much, she couldn’t help but return to the classroom, her husband, Jesse Byrd, said.

Kimberley Chavez Lopez Byrd died on June 26 after testing positive for COVID-19.

She taught first grade in the Hayden-Winkelman Unified School District, a small eastern Arizona community. Before she tested positive, Byrd and two other teachers taught a summer school class virtually from the same classroom. All three teachers came down with the virus.

Byrd, 61, was admitted to a hospital and was put on a ventilator for more than a dozen days, her condition slowly deteriorating, before she died. Now, the small community is grieving for a teacher her colleagues say was ingrained in the fabric of their school system and a matriarch her family says was the center of their world.

“It just feels like a bad dream that I can’t wake up from,” Jesse Byrd said. “We’ve just felt so lost without her.”

The teachers who survived also say Byrd’s death is a stark reminder of the risks teachers will face if school reopens too soon.

“Everything is safety, safety, safety,” said Jena Martinez-Inzunza, a Hayden-Winkelman teacher. “What a contradiction to be threatened by the president. What a contradiction to be bullied: ‘Do this, or I’m going to pull funding.’ What a contradiction to say our kids lives matter … Why would you push to open schools?”

Source: After AZ teacher Kim Byrd dies of COVID, questions over school reopening

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