NewsLocal NewsCoronavirus


Indian River County dealing with school closure, teacher deaths due to COVID-19

Beachland Elementary School in Vero Beach on Aug. 27, 2021.jpg
Posted at 4:12 PM, Aug 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-27 23:30:44-04

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY, Fla. — An Indian River County elementary school and closed and two teachers have tragically passed away due to COVID-19, the school district's superintendent said Friday.

For Dr. David Moore, the last nine days have been heartbreaking.

"We as a school community are dealing with the death of two teachers," Moore said.

Two teachers dying from COVID-19, with the latest being an English-Spanish teacher at Fellsmere Elementary School who died on Thursday.

Last week, a fourth grade teacher at Treasure Coast Elementary School passed away. Moore said Tabitha Blair never came back to school after struggling with COVID-19 all summer.

"She definitely was a teacher," said Jennifer Freeland, President, Indian River County Education Association. "She loved her kids. She loved doing what she did. She worked hard at it."

"I didn’t know Tabitha personally but every person who speaks of her talks about joy and energy and light," Moore said.

Students and staff honored her memory in a private ceremony at school, featuring her favorite flamingos and tie dye shirts.

"I don't think we've seen the last death,"said Freeland. "My worry is that it's going to become one of the children or one of our students."

The deaths are the worst result of a COVID problem that is seemingly overtaking the district. In Vero Beach, Beachland Elementary School is closed over issues with students and staff.

"We can’t do that if we don’t have someone to open the doors to clean the cafeteria, teachers to stand in the school and the numbers continue to grow," Moore said.

Beachland Elementary School will be closed until at least Sept. 7. Moore said students there will shift to online learning.

And because of the rising numbers here, Moore said a mask mandate will go into effect starting Monday.

"We must do something and if the mask if the best thing we have right now, then that's where we start," said Freeland.