A beloved teacher assistant in the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools system has died. Several social media postings by colleagues, friends, and family say her death was related to the coronavirus.
Teresa Gaither worked for several years in the district. She had served the children of Easton Elementary as a teacher assistant since 1997. Colleagues say she led a Girl Scout Troop there and often volunteered at the school.
The district says it won't confirm whether her death was COVID-related because of privacy issues, but many who knew her took to Facebook to post messages about her illness and tributes.
Val Young is President of the Forsyth County Association of Educators, an organization she says Gaither was involved in.
“She was a wonderful person," says Young. "She was an asset to her school community. She had a great sense of humor, she loved the children and she loved what she did, so she is going to be sorely lost at Easton.“
Young says she has spoken with many of Gaither's friends and colleagues and says she touched so many people.
Toni Brooks worked with Gaither for the past 15 years. She says the school community is heartbroken.
“She was such a big part of the Easton Elementary. She always volunteered for events. She even helped with the beautification of the school. She meant so much to so many of us,” says Brooks.
It's unclear when or how Gaither contracted the virus.
Superintendent Angela Hairston says, “Ms. Gaither was well known in the Easton community. While I did not know her personally, I know she touched lots of lives and was a well-respected and valuable member of the Easton faculty. Losing a staff member is never easy. My condolences and prayers go out to her family, friends, and co-workers.”
In a press release, the district says, “At this time, the Forsyth County Department of Public Health has given WS/FCS no indication that Ms. Gaither's cause of death was related to her employment.”
“As with any passing of a WS/FCS employee, the WS/FCS Crisis team is working with the staff and students as needed while supporting the school in this time of loss.”
Easton Principal Ramona Warren says, “Everyone knew Ms. Gaither and she will forever be a part of the fabric of Easton Elementary. She cared so much about the school, our children, and this community. She poured her heart and soul into working with our students and will be sorely missed.”
According to the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools COVID dashboard on Tuesday, elementary schools had the highest totals for staff confirmed cases and staff in quarantine.
Easton Elementary reported one staff confirmed case and two staff in quarantine.
The district recently began welcoming back exceptional children, pre-k, and kindergarten students to classrooms. First grade is also scheduled to return this month. Some teachers have been back in school for many weeks.
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