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Second Lancaster County teacher dies from COVID-19, district says

This is the second special education teacher at South Middle School to pass away in recent days.
Published: Sep. 10, 2021 at 9:01 AM EDT|Updated: Sep. 10, 2021 at 9:07 AM EDT
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LANCASTER COUNTY, S.C. (WBTV) – A second teacher at a Lancaster County middle school has died from COVID-19, district officials announced Friday.

“We are saddened to learn of the passing of a second South Middle School staff member,” a statement from the Lancaster County School District said. “Special education teacher Eleanor Mends passed away from COVID complications. Ms. Mends had many years of experience teaching and three years with Lancaster County School District.”

District leaders said they continue to follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control, and that it is their priority to keep students and staff safe.

This is the second special education teacher at South Middle School to pass away in recent days. The district says they did not know Mends vaccination status.

On Wednesday, the district announced that teacher, whose name was not released, died from COVID-19 complications on Sept. 4 after battling the virus for a few weeks.

Related: Lancaster County teacher dies from COVID-19 complications, district says

According to the district, the two teachers were not in the same classroom.

This is the third COVID-19-related death the Lancaster County School District has experienced over the last month.

On Aug. 12, a 16-year-old died following a COVID-19 diagnosis.

The teen was a student at Andrew Jackson High School.

Dennis Hood has two grandchildren at South Middle School. He says the district’s recent deaths are chilling and making him question the safety of staff and students.

“I’m kind of scared for them. I know they don’t really want to go back virtual but that’s what I’d really like for them to do though,” Hood said.

State law forbids mask mandates in schools, but Hood is urging everyone to still take this virus seriously.

“Hold on, stay social distancing, wear your masks that’s the only thing I can say, and get vaccinated if you can,” Hood said.

The district’s recent deaths weren’t just felt at South Middle. Sonya Gardner also has grandchildren in the district.

“I’m so sorry for your loss I know it’s hard,” Gardner said.

Gardner realizes switching to 100% virtual learning won’t be easy for teachers and students, but says she wants everyone to be safe no matter what the district decides to do.

“They’ve done good. They got the chrome books and all they’ve done good going virtual but they do good going to school because it’s hands-on but I’d want them to be the safest,” Gardner said.

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