SACRAMENTO, Calif — A substitute teacher who worked in the Sacramento City school district died on Sunday days after testing positive for the coronavirus, the district confirmed Monday afternoon.
The Sacramento City Unified School District announced last week that one of its volunteer teachers at Sutterville Elementary School tested positive for the virus known as COVID-19. The district did not say whether this was the same teacher, but Sacramento Teachers Association President David Fisher confirmed the teacher was the same one who worked at Sutterville Elementary.
"Today the Sacramento City Unified School District was deeply saddened to learn that the individual who worked as a temporary volunteer and a substitute teacher in our district has passed away," said SCUSD Superintendent Jorge Aguilar. "We join the family, friends, colleagues and students in grieving this tragic loss. This death underscores the seriousness of this current public health emergency. Sac City Unified will continue to implement any and all measures recommended by public health leaders to protect the health and safety of our students, our staff, and our community."
The district confirmed the teacher's death in a joint statement with Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg and the Sacramento City Teachers Association President.
The substitute teacher was identified as a parishioner at Faith Presbyterian Church by Rob Stutzman, a church spokesperson.
Stutzman added that five church members had tested positive for the disease, including the teacher who died. He said their pastor is also symptomatic and awaiting test results.
The church has been closed since March 12 when officials first noticed symptoms among members. Stutzman said they closed to help prevent the spread of the virus.
The Sacramento County Health Department reported earlier Monday that the teacher was the county's second person to die from coronavirus.
Both people who have died in Sacramento County were older than 70 with underlying health conditions, health officials said. There have been 33 confirmed cases of the virus in Sacramento County.
“This is a devastating loss to our community,” said SCTA President David Fisher and also a second grade teacher in the district. “Our schools are filled with young people, but it’s important to remember those in our school community are also older and perhaps more vulnerable at the time of this virus crisis."
Sacramento County last week announced that all school districts would be closing campuses for at least three weeks beginning March 16. The closures came as local, state and federal officials continue to slow the spread of COVID-19.
The closures affect nearly 250,000 students who attend Sacramento County schools, including the about 64,000 students in Elk Grove Unified School District, the largest district in Northern California.
"The passing of an educator due to COVID-19 is tragic," said Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg. "While our community steps up to meet the challenge of this public health crisis, I agree with our districts’ decision to temporarily close schools across Sacramento County to slow the spread of COVID-19. This is one of many steps that public health leaders are recommending, and I commend everyone in our city and county who are working together to meet this challenge with resolve.”
According to the CDC, coronavirus (COVID-19) is a family of viruses that is spreadable from person to person. Coronavirus is believed to have been first detected in a seafood market in Wuhan, China in December 2019. If someone is sick with coronavirus, the symptoms they may show include mild to severe respiratory illness, cough, and difficulty breathing.
Currently, there is no vaccine, however, the CDC suggests the following precautions, along with any other respiratory illness:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- Wash your hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds.
The CDC also says facemasks should only be used by people who show symptoms of the virus. If you’re not sick, you do not have to wear a facemask. The CDC says the immediate risk to the U.S. public is low.
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