Fort Worth school district officials have confirmed that two of their employees died of COVID-19 as the school continues to see a surge in cases.
Officials led by Deputy Superintendent Karen Molinar conducted a meeting to update the board of trustees on the district’s Safe Return to the learning plan. During the meeting, assistant superintendent Michael Steinert was asked by board member Roxanne Martinez of any COVID19 related deaths among employees and students, Star Telegram reported.
Steinert said that there were two employees who died due to the virus just this week but did not identify the names of the individuals.
Officials did not mention any student deaths or if there are any other deaths since the start of the school year.
But a Southwest High School Facebook post stated that a teacher named Richard Zara died Monday due to COVID-19 complications. The said teacher taught engineering and robotics at the school for four years.
“Richard was an amazing educator,” Southwest High Principal John Engel said in the post, adding: “His passion for student success was evident in every part of our engineering program. His legacy will live on through the numerous lives he impacted.”
“Students have said he was one of the greatest people they have had the privilege of knowing,” the post said. “In the time they spent with Mr. Zarza he had a great impact on their lives.”
Molinar said that the death of two employees doesn’t mean that other employees were exposed to the virus. During the meeting, the deputy superintendent also said that there were 734 active COVID-19 cases among students as of Sept. 10 which accounts for 1% of the student population. 4, 873 active students who are in quarantine were also reported.
As of Wednesday afternoon, there were 1, 858 positive cases among students and 477 among employees since Aug. 1. According to district data, there are about 200 active cases among employees and more than 400 employees who are in quarantine.
Since Aug. 16, a total of over 12, 000 students who either tested positive for the virus, were exposed to someone within the campus, or were exposed to the virus outside the campus. About 72% of these students were exposed to the virus on campus.
Meanwhile, 1, 300 employees either tested positive for the virus, were exposed to someone within the campus, or were exposed to the virus outside the campus.
Amidst the surge, Molinar said that the district is fighting the virus through various COVID-19 protocols such as enhanced cleaning of schools, instituting seating charts and cohorts for better contact tracing, daily self-assessments, and more. Due to legal limitations, the district can only urge the use of masks and not require them.