8 Tennessee public school employees dead from COVID in first month of school

School desk and chairs in empty modern classroom. Empty class room with white board and projector in elementary school. Primary classroom with smartboard and alphabet on wall. kindergarten school tile / Getty Images

Just before she went to bed on Tuesday, Tennessee Education Association President Beth Brown got word of yet another public school teacher who died this week as a result of COVID-19. Brown returned to what has now become a painful but familiar ritual since the pandemic first began.

"One of the very last things I did last night was write a note of sympathy," Brown said Wednesday. "Unless we get more mitigation measures in place, this is going to keep happening."

At least eight Tennessee public school employees – three elementary school teachers, one pre-K assistant, a cafeteria worker, a bus driver and two high school teachers – have died since the school year began after contracting COVID-19. The total is an imperfect tally of a grim statistic that no one government agency or private entity is monitoring in a systematic way.