Demetria “Demi” Bannister, a teacher at Windsor Elementary School in Columbia, S.C., died on Monday due to complications caused by COVID-19.
On Aug. 31, Bannister, 28, had begun her third year of teaching third grade at Windsor. She previously taught fifth grade at the school, according to Richland County School District Two officials.
In addition to teaching her class, Bannister served as a choir instructor and filled other roles. Following her untimely passing, with the permission of the educator’s family, district staffers issued a statement to impart the seriousness of coronavirus.
“With heavy hearts, (Richland Two) administrators share this information with permission from Ms. Bannister’s parents, who wish to remind others about the seriousness of this disease caused by the coronavirus,” district spokeswoman Libby Roof said.
“Known as Windsor’s Songbird, Ms. Bannister used her musical talents to bring a great deal of joy to our school,” said Denise Quickel, principal of Windsor Elementary, in the announcement. “Ms. Bannister loved her students and never missed an opportunity to advocate for students and public education.”
Bannister was present on Aug. 28, the last workday for Windsor Elementary teachers before the school year started. According to the district’s statement, when it officially began just days later, she taught virtually from her residence.
The school learned Bannister tested positive for COVID-19 on Sept. 4. According to officials, Richland Two initiated health protocols, which included cleaning the school with “EPA approved virucides and electrostatic disinfecting machines.”
Bannister’s death was shared with employees on Monday, followed by the parents of her students from this year and last year being informed on Tuesday. The district statement was released on Wednesday.
“I want to express my sincere condolences to Ms. Bannister’s parents, relatives, friends, and school family, While gone from us too soon, Ms. Bannister’s legacy lives on through the lives of the students she taught in her five years as a dedicated educator,” said Dr. Baron Davis, Richland Two superintendent, in the release.
“To honor Ms. Bannister’s memory, I ask the Richland Two family to join me in reaffirming our commitment to doing all we can to provide premier learning experiences for all students in the safest environment possible and doing our part to slow the spread of COVID-19,” he continued.
The district’s Learning Support Services department was making counseling available on the school’s campus for students and staff who need it.
Her passing garnered the attention of South Carolina state Rep. Kambrell Garvin, who noted on Twitter that the community “lost this beautiful soul to this terrible contagion, COVID-19.”
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