‘A heavy heart.’ Third employee from same Ky. elementary school dies of COVID-19.
A third Lee County Elementary School employee, counselor Rhonda Estes, died of COVID-19 Monday afternoon, Lee County Superintendent Sarah Wasson confirmed.
"With a heavy heart, I confirm that we have lost a dear friend and colleague this afternoon due to Covid disease," Wasson told the Herald Leader in a statement.
“Our elementary school counselor, Ms. Rhonda Estes, has been a special part of the Lee County family (schools) for over 31 years. We offer our deepest condolences to her family. Our co-workers and our community are heartbroken and we ask for your prayers and for some space and time to mourn in this most difficult situation, ”it says in her statement.
Lee County Elementary School guardian Bill Bailey died earlier this month. A teaching assistant at Lee County Elementary School, Heather Antle, also died of COVID-19 in late August.
Matt Cockrell, a Shelby County high school teacher, also died Sunday of COVID, according to Kentucky Department of Education spokeswoman Toni Konz Tatman.
Last week, the Kentucky 120 United educators group reported that at least 33 employees at a school in Kentucky had died of COVID-19. The last two deaths bring that number to at least 35.
"We lost another Kentucky educator to COVID-19," Tatman said on a social media post. "Not only was Matt a top art teacher, he was also a coach and club sponsor."
A Facebook group called Martha Layne Collins High School Athletics paid tribute to Matt Cockrell, an instructor and golf coach who died of COVID on Sunday.
The Kurier Journal reported that Matt Cockrell and Carly Cockrell, who also worked for Shelby County Schools, according to their Facebook page, got married in June.
"My husband went to see the Lord at 7:58 am this morning," Carly Cockrell said on a social media post on Sunday. “He fought so hard. I was told 5 times that he wouldn't make it and he kept pushing and fighting to the end. He was surrounded by his family when his spirit was lifted. "
“We can all believe that Matt is without a doubt with Jesus where all his pain has disappeared. The last words Matt said to me were, 'Jesus saves!' Matt was everything, ”said Cockrell.
"This is so difficult. I feel so sorry for everyone who loves Matt Cockrell. I know his tribe is huge. I will work every day for the rest of my life to make him proud and to honor his life" she said in the post.
Carly Cockrell posted earlier this month that her husband was being put on a ventilator.
A June article from Morehead State University on Cockrell, an MSU graduate, said he started his teaching career at a small, independent K-12 school and is currently an art teacher at Martha Layne Collins High School in Shelbyville. In 2019, Cockrell received the Secondary Level Art Educator of The Year Award from the Kentucky Art Education Association, the MSU article reads.
“Art class allows me to tell my own personal story about the struggles I had in school growing up and how students currently fighting in school are not so different from me. Sharing my success story and giving the students this reality check enables them to see the possibilities, ”he was quoted as saying.
The vaccination status of the two school employees was initially unknown.
At least 33 Kentucky K-12 school employees have reportedly died of COVID since 2020.
Updated: Lee County KY School Elementary School Aid dies of COVID, 3 employees in hospital
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