More than a dozen unvaccinated employees at Florida’s largest school district have died from COVID-19 in the past three weeks, according to a report.
A Miami-Dade County Public School spokeswoman said that family members have reported 13 worker deaths since Aug. 16, the Washington Post reported.
In all of those cases, the educators had not been inoculated, according to the article. Florida recorded about 129,000 new cases of the virus and 433 deaths in the last seven day period.
The United Teachers of Dade, which represents some 30,000 teachers, set up a pop-up vaccination site Tuesday to encourage teachers to get a jab.
“The number of @MDCPS family members who have passed away from COVID over the past 2 weeks is devastating,” The UTD tweeted Thursday.
“We urgently need education & vaccination deployed to these vulnerable communities before they are decimated by the virus,” the union said.
One of the district’s recent COVID-19 victims was veteran third-grade math teacher Abe Coleman, who was lauded for his dedication to mentoring at-risk students of color. Rep. Frederica Wilson, founder of the 5000 Role Models of Excellence Project, paid homage to the educator’s contributions in her organization.
“I am deeply saddened by this heartbreaking loss,” the Democrat tweeted last week. “Mr. Coleman was one of the best that @5000RoleModels had working with our boys. He was a highly motivated, dedicated and inspirational site leader and will be dearly missed!”
Coleman, 55, was not vaccinated against the virus, which killed him on Sept. 1, Wilson told the Miami Herald. She reportedly said she hoped his death would encourage others to get inoculated, as the virus continued to surge in the state.
“I’m hoping this will give them the courage to take the shot,” the congresswoman told the paper. “So many people take cough syrup and don’t know what’s in that! You drink a beer and you don’t know what’s in that!”
The teacher deaths have not been confined to Miami. Three instructors in neighboring Broward County died in a 24-hour period before classes began last month, according to MPR News.
Fifty-three percent of Florida residents are fully vaccinated, which is the same rate as the national average, according to CDC data.
Classroom safety has been a political issue in the Sunshine State, as Gov. Ron DeSantis initially banned mask mandates in public schools. The Republican’s executive order was overturned by a judge late last month.
A similar order was reversed in Texas last month amid mounting legal challenges, as cases there also surged.