JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Two beloved teachers at Jacksonville’s Trinity Christian Academy have died from complications due to COVID-19, a school spokesman confirmed.
The two were mother and daughter.
Marilyn Foshee and Julie Foshee-Knowell died in the past week, a TCA representative said.
News4Jax reached out to the private school’s administration after being contacted by concerned parents.
Communications director Chris Carr said the women contracted the virus while on Thanksgiving break and did not return to campus following the break. He said there was no exposure to anyone else related to the school.
Family members, friends and parents of Trinity students posted condolences on social media, praising the educators for their kindness, dedication and compassion.
“Really, really profoundly sad,” said Trinity Baptist Pastor Tom Messer, who added the two lived to serve others. “I think their legacy as they loved children, they loved Trinity and they poured themselves out for people all these years.”
Mom Marilyn, known to students as Mimi, was a preschool teacher for years, involved with the school since 1994. Daughter Julie the preschool director – began as an assistant when she was a teenager and rose the ranks.
Knowell, 44, passed away over the weekend, days after her mother’s death at 81 years old.
“They personified we’re not just professional daycare people. We are a grandma and an aunt to all these kids. And we’re gonna love them and help them. You couldn’t have a better preschool worker than what Julie and Marilyn were,” said Messer.
Many consider teachers to be frontline workers, at enhanced risk during the pandemic.
“In just the last week and half, we know of at least five educators who have died of COVID in the state of Florida,” Florida Education Association President Andrew Spar told News4Jax last week. “From principals to teachers, to support staff and bus drivers, that is a great concern and we have to protect our educators.”
Spar, speaking on behalf of Florida’s largest teachers union, is asking Gov. Ron DeSantis to prioritize school employees for COVID-19 vaccinations.
The Trinity community is devastated by the loss of two women who made a big impact and one family dealing with twice the tragedy.
“Our Christian worldview teaches us that suffering is a part of life,” Messer said. “And it’s inevitable that we’re going to have to not just suffer but we’re going to have to confront as we are this week even the loss of loved ones and people we care deeply about. And it does bring us back to the gospel message that our hope is in Jesus Christ.”
The Trinity community is planning a memorial for them in the coming weeks when students return from Christmas break. A GoFundMe fundraiser has been set up for those who want to help the family.
Marilyn was a widow and leaves behind a son.
Julie had three stepchildren and was also a widow. Her husband died years back, according to the pastor.
The school said the nursery was closed after an unrelated employee tested positive nearly two weeks after Thanksgiving break. Contact tracing was completed and a portion of the nursery was closed according to the Department of Health and CDC guidelines.