SCS employee dies after catching COVID-19 in classroom, family says

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A Shelby County Schools employee at Riverwood Elementary has died after catching COVID-19.

FOX13 spoke with the victim’s family over the phone, but they did not want to talk on camera due to privacy concerns.

The family told FOX13 the employee caught the virus at school then died.

The family said the employee suffered from kidney disease and was on dialysis.

A spokesperson with Shelby County Schools said it is aware of the death but did not release details about how the employee died.

Still, the Executive Director of the Memphis-Shelby County Education Association is worried more teachers could get sick this school year.

“Even if you don’t wish to wear a mask, what about your fellow man? What about those who have to work with you and be with you and sit next to you?” said Keith Williams with the Memphis-Shelby County Education Association.

RELATED: 1000+ opt-out of masks in municipal schools, hundreds in quarantine, officials say

Williams is concerned more teachers and other school employees will get sick or, even worse, die from COVID-19.

He’s even more concerned after Gov. Bill Lee passed an executive order allowing parents to opt their children out of school mask mandates.

“Teachers are very concerned, and that’s one of the things we are seeing about the absence. We have some schools where teachers are out with this variant or condition,” said Williams.

Dr. Steve Threlkeld with Baptist Hospital said the best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in schools is getting students and teachers vaccinated and requiring masks.

RELATED: Health department says school mask mandate remains in effect in Shelby County

“You can still get it if you are around someone who is putting out a large amount of virus even with a mask on,” said Dr. Threlkeld.

He said we could see increased cases this school year because the Delta variant is more contagious, and masking is now optional.

“The earlier variants, Wuhan and the like, were not as contagious, and kids didn’t transmit it very efficiently. We are already seeing that’s not the case with Delta,” said Dr. Threlkeld.

Meanwhile, Williams is worried teachers and school staff will leave their jobs to protect themselves and family.

RELATED: SCS still requiring masks as district reviews new order from Gov. Lee

“Teachers should not have to abandon their careers, should not have to abandon their jobs they desire to teach,” said Williams.

FOX13 reached out to SCS about the employee who passed away and was told they are aware of the death but did not confirm if the victim died from COVID-19.

The District said there are grief counselors available for students and teachers.