(Trends Wide) — Thirteen Miami-Dade County Public Schools employees have died from COVID-19 since Aug. 16, the school district and local teachers union told Trends Wide on Tuesday.
Among the 13 were four teachers, a security monitor, a cafeteria worker and seven school bus drivers, said Dade Workers Union president Karla Hernandez-Mats. All were unvaccinated.
“These were extraordinary educators and people, and their loss is felt throughout the community,” Hernandez-Mats said.
The school district’s covid-19 board tracks cases, but not deaths. A spokesperson told Trends Wide that they were aware of the 13 deaths anecdotally and through family members who reported them.
“The loss of any of our employees is something that is always deeply felt, as every member of this organization is considered part of the Miami-Dade County Public Schools family,” the district said in a statement. “We extend our hearts and our prayers to the loved ones of those whose lives have recently been lost.”
According to the district board, 147 students and 186 employees have tested positive for COVID-19 since Aug. 13, when the board began tracking cases for the school year.
Classes began in Miami-Dade on August 23.
Miami-Dade is the largest school district in the state and one of the few to have enacted a mask mandate in defiance of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
To honor those the district lost, Hernandez-Mats helped coordinate a pop-up vaccination site for Miami-Dade employees on Tuesday. Just hours after the event, 40 people had come for their first injection, he said. While that number may not seem large, he said it gives him hope.
“All that misinformation is creating a lot of fear and this is a neglected community,” Hernandez-Mats said. “We looked at the data that we got from the health department here in the county and basically what they tell us is that 30% of the African-American community is vaccinated, and that’s well below our averages here.”
The 13 employees who died were from the black community, he said.
The pop-up site will run a second time in a few weeks to deliver the second dose of the vaccine.
“We are very hopeful and pleased,” he said.
Incentives to get vaccinated
The Miami-Dade school district will present an article to the school board this week “asking for a one-time stipend of US $ 275 for any full-time and permanent part-time employee who presents proof of complete immunization,” said a district spokesperson.
The district also said that 85% of its teachers have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to a survey by United Teachers of Dade.