NEPTUNE BEACH, Fla. – A teacher’s assistant at Neptune Beach Elementary has died due to COVID-19 complications, a Duval County School Board member confirmed.
Board chair Elizabeth Andersen made the announcement Wednesday morning on Facebook.
“I’m sad to report that we have lost more members of the DCPS family. Ms. Martin was a beloved Paraprofessional at Neptune Beach Elementary who passed away from COVID, and a student at Twin Lakes has passed away from MIS-C, an illness thought to be COVID related,” Anderson wrote.
Duval County teachers union president Terrie Brady confirmed Jeanne Martin died Monday morning.
A Duval County Public Schools spokesperson said Martin had been a teacher’s assistant at the school since 2019.
“I’m heartbroken about it. I’m so sad that we put someone’s life in danger,” said Neptune Beach Elementary School parent Manya Prescott. “Those paraprofessionals mean so much to the school. I’m devastated about it.”
In an email sent to families, Principal Elizabeth Kavanagh wrote in part:
“Our sympathies go out to family, friends, and our entire school community during this difficult time. Specially-trained school counselors and social workers were on-site and available to students and staff to encourage happy remembrances and discuss reactions to this death. Additional support will be made available to students and staff as needed. If you do not wish for your child to participate in these discussions, please contact us informing of your wishes.”
The principal also released the following statement:
“There are not enough words to express how much Jeanne meant to our school and community. She was a treasure. She had a huge heart and poured it into everything she did at Neptune Beach Elementary. I enjoyed watching her work with students, particularly in her role supporting students with special needs. The children loved her, and she loved them. Her loss is truly heartbreaking for all of us, and she will be deeply missed. As a tight-knit community, we have been supporting each other through this challenging time, and in contact with her beautiful family to extend our love and prayers.”
According to the district’s dashboard, there have been six staff members and two students who have tested positive at Neptune Beach Elementary since the start of the school year. Two of those staff cases were added this month.
“I don’t think we should’ve opened up schools. It was too early,” Prescott said.
Prescott praised her son’s school for the precautions it’s taking but ultimately feels that students should be learning virtually to prevent more deaths.
It was not immediately clear if Martin had any underlying health conditions.
The announcement comes a day after News4Jax reported the death of Deaurra Nealy, a second-grader at Twin Lakes Academy Elementary. Her family said she died just days after the initial signs of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome, or MIS-C, which is a disease in children that usually follows an infection or exposure to the coronavirus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“I’m devastated for these families and school communities,” Andersen said.
Atlantic Beach student Elizabeth McNew, 12, died of COVID-19 complications in September. A 9-year-old girl from Putnam County who died in July was the youngest patient to die in Florida related to the coronavirus.