A Georgia teacher who worked in the same school district that had offered teachers “the liberty of wearing jeans” over issuing a mask mandate died of COVID-19 last weekend, The Daily Beast reported.
Penny Gary, 58, a teacher at Statesboro High School in Bulloch County, died from complications of the virus, the outlet reported.
“It is with a heavy heart, that we the family and staff of Hill’s Mortuary, announce the passing of Ms. Penny Gary, who departed this earthly life, Sunday, August 29, 2021, at the East Georgia Regional Medical Center,” the Hill’s Mortuary Inc., a local funeral home, said in a statement on Monday. “We extend condolences and offer prayers to her entire family and many friends.”
The Daily Beast noted that it’s not clear if Gary was vaccinated or teaching in person since the school year began in August. As WTOC reported, Gary was a cherished social studies teacher for more than a decade, and many alumni shared their condolences online.
The news comes as Charles Wilson, the school district superintendent, ignored teachers’ request for a mask mandate amid a surge of COVID-19, as Insider reported, but told them in an email they can wear jeans for a month. The move received pushback from educators, and one previously told The Daily Beast it was “super offensive.”
According to the Daily Beast, citing the Bulloch County Schools, there were 245 COVID cases last week, with 42 of those from Statesboro High.
“As a school district our Human Resources and Public Relations departments have established standard protocols in reference to public statements about the medical conditions or deaths of an employee or student,” a spokesperson for the school district told Insider when reached for comment.
“These protocols do not permit school district personnel to make public statements in these instances due to privacy and out of respect for the family.”