September 28, 2020

These Arizona teachers shared a classroom for summer school. All 3 contracted COVID-19. 1 died.

Every year, Mrs. Byrd taught folklórico dance to her first-grade students.

And though she had once retired, Mrs. Byrd loved teaching so much, she couldn’t help but return to the classroom, her husband, Jesse Byrd, said.

Now she’s gone. Kimberley Chavez Lopez Byrd died June 26 after testing positive for COVID-19.

She taught first grade in the Hayden-Winkelman Unified School District in a small eastern Arizona community. Before she tested positive, Byrd and two other teachers taught a summer school class virtually from the same classroom. All three teachers came down with the virus.

Byrd, 61, was admitted to a hospital and put on a ventilator for more than a dozen days, her condition slowly deteriorating, before she died. Now, the community is grieving for a teacher her colleagues say was ingrained in the fabric of their school system and a matriarch her family says was the center of their world.

“It just feels like a bad dream that I can’t wake up from,” Jesse Byrd said. “We’ve just felt so lost without her.”

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