Arizona Teacher Kimberly Byrd Dies of COVID-19 After Sharing Classroom With 2 Teachers

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The death of a beloved first grade teacher is shaking the nation today, after it was revealed that she and two other teachers who shared a classroom were all stricken with COVID-19. Kimberly Byrd, 61, was teaching virtual summer school near Phoenix, which has seen a huge increase in cases in recent weeks.

She shared the classroom with fellow teachers, Jena Martinez-Inzunza and Angela Skillings, as the students watched via Zoom from home. Martinez and Skillings are both recovering from the deadly virus, but their fellow teacher died after a two-week struggle.

"She had the passion to teach," Byrd's husband Jesse told Inside Edition. "To see how the kids responded to her with her caring ways was amazing."

The two surviving teachers say they took every precaution, including spreading out and wearing masks, as they remotely taught a combined class of kindergarten, first and second grade students alongside Byrd.

The veteran teacher's death comes as the debate over reopening schools in the fall rages on. It's turning into a hot-button political issue, with the Trump administration and many Republican governors pushing to get kids back in the classroom. But public health experts are cautioning to take it slow.

"In large parts of the country where things are really bad right now, it's going to be very, very hard to open schools safely," said Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute. "And even if they push themselves and open up, they're going to find themselves shutting down again."

Meanwhile, the teachers grieving over the death of their colleague say they've now seen firsthand how dangerous COVID-19 can be.

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