38-year-old Iowa teacher Jason Englert was found dead in his home just days after testing positive for COVID-19
Just as pretty much every health organization and expert in the country — including Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert — predicted, COVID-19 is raging across the country as we enter the mid-fall and winter months. While many schools opted for virtual learning platforms to kick off the 2020-21 school year in order to minimize the spread of the virus and protect the health of the children, teachers, families, and community, others have been open since August. Unfortunately, there have been a number of teachers and administrators who have become infected with the virus since the start of the year, and some have even lost their lives. On Sunday, another teacher passed away after being diagnosed with the virus just days earlier.
According to his obituary in The Belmond Independent, Jason Englert, an Iowa teacher, was found dead in his home on Sunday at the age of 38. His family told KCCI, their local news station, that the educator, volleyball, basketball, and track coach had been diagnosed with COVID-19 just three days before. His cause of death has yet to be released, but his family suspects that the virus may have provoked a heart attack or stroke.
“Jason was always such a pleasure to have because he had such a positive attitude, a lot of energy, and the rapport he had with students was remarkable,” Dan Frazier, superintendent of Belmond-Klemme, told the outlet. “He was just a very energetic guy, and he always had a cheerful way of looking at things. It wasn’t unusual for me to ask him how it was going and he would say things like ‘living the dream.'”
According to Frazier, the entire school community is reeling in the news of his death. “For the students, of course it was such a shock at first,” he said. “Many of our students had trouble knowing how to register this.”
Englert learned that he had been infected with the virus during mass testing in the community, which is currently in the midst of a devastating COVID-19 surge. After teaching in person for the first few months, that week they had switched to a virtual platform, per The Des Moines Register. His family revealed that his first symptom was a headache.
His friends have set up a GoFundMe campaign to help raise funds for his funeral expenses.
“Jason Englert had a passion for people. He spent his life bringing joy, kindness, love and generosity to all those around him,” wrote the organizer of the page. In the comments, his loved ones, pupils, and other community members raved about what a great person he was.
“My sympathies to the family. Jason was much too young to die. Hopefully, he is continuing his teaching career in heaven,” wrote one.
So many teachers have sacrificed their lives in order to teach students during the pandemic. These include a beloved Arkansas elementary teacher, a third-grade teacher from North Carolina, a Michigan educator, a New Mexico Special Education teacher, and a South Carolina teacher of 25 years.
The biggest argument for sending children back to school is that when infected, they tend to experience little or no symptoms. However, it is important to keep in mind that many educators are more prone to serious infection. Now that we entering the fall and winter months, and the virus is breaking records across the country, it may be time to reexamine in-person learning.