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Arizona teacher dies of COVID-19 after sharing classroom with other teachers who tested positive

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GILA COUNTY, Ariz. (KRON) – A teacher who shared a classroom with three other colleagues for a summer school class has died from coronavirus, according to local reports.

Kimberly Chavez Lopez Byrd, 61, died June 26, a little under two weeks after she was hospitalized due to coronavirus complications, CNN reports. The other two teachers continue to battle the virus.

Byrd’s husband Jesse told CNN she was prone to sinus infections, and also had asthma, diabetes, and lupus.

Officials with the school where she worked said all three teachers who shared the classroom took proper precautions and wore masks and gloves, used hand sanitizer, and socially distanced; however, they all still contracted the virus.

Byrd was a first-grade teacher and had worked in the Hayden-Winkelman Unified School District for 38 years.

“Losing Mrs. Byrd in our small rural community was devastating. She was an excellent educator with a huge heart,” Pamela Gonzalez, principal of Leonor Hambly K8, told CNN. “We find comfort in knowing her story may bring awareness to the importance of keeping our school employees safe and our precious students safe in this pandemic.”

Days after Byrd was hospitalized, her husband, his daughter, and several other relatives also tested positive for COVID-19.

The sad news comes as schools across the US grapple with plans on whether or not to resume in-person classes amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Last week, President Donald Trump threatened to cut off federal funding to schools that chose not to reopen in the fall.

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