A third-grade teacher in South Carolina died Monday from COVID-19, just three days after testing positive for the virus.
Demetria “Demi” Bannister was 28 years old and had just started her fifth year at Windsor Elementary School in Columbia. She was teaching remotely from her home but had attended a teacher preparation day at school on Aug. 28, according to officials from Richland 2 School District, the Associated Press reported.
Bannister was diagnosed with COVID-19 on Friday, and died Monday.
Her coworkers at Windsor said that Bannister brought “a great deal of joy” to the school with her singing ability.
"Known as Windsor's Songbird, Ms. Bannister used her musical talents to bring a great deal of joy to our school," Denise Quickel, principal of Windsor Elementary, said in a press release, The State reported. “For our school’s Attendance Matters kickoff in 2019, she wrote a song about the importance of coming to school to the tune of ‘Old Town Road’. The song and video were a big hit with our school family.”
"She had one of the most beautiful voices," Rebecca Twitty, a fourth-grade teacher at Windsor, told WLTX. "I mean, if it was someone's birthday, her and another teacher, they would come down and serenade us a lot. She was always singing and performing."
Twitty said that Bannister — “a great teacher” — is an enormous loss for Windsor.
"I was just thinking, goodness, this is going to be a big hole and we are going to try and piece by piece, like, patch it together. But it will be a constant puzzle piece missing for Windsor," Twitty said.
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"I’m fortunate to have gone into it being healthy and I was able to get on the other side of it pretty quick," the fitness trainer said
The school district said that they started contact tracing and notifying close contacts of Bannister on Friday, after learning that she tested positive. The school will also be fully disinfected, and employees and students will receive counseling.
"While gone from us too soon, Ms. Bannister's legacy lives on through the lives of the students she taught in her five years as a dedicated educator," Baron R. Davis, superintendent for Richland School District Two, said in the release.
According to the Washington Post, at least six teachers have died from COVID-19 since schools resumed in August. Along with Bannister, 34-year-old AshLee DeMarinis from Missouri; Tom Slate, 53, from Mississippi; Nacoma James, 42, also from Mississippi; Teresa Horn, 62, from Oklahoma; and a teacher from Iowa have all died from COVID-19 complications in the last month.