An Iowa teacher was found dead in his home just three days after he tested positive for COVID-19 – a diagnosis he may never have received had his school district not performed widespread testing last week. Jason Englert, who taught gifted students in addition to coaching sports, was 38 years old when he died Sunday.
“He was just a very energetic guy and he always had a cheerful way of looking at things,” Belmond-Kelmme’s superintendent Dan Frazier told KCCI. “It wasn’t unusual for me to ask him how it was going, and he would say things like, ‘Living the dream.’”
Wright County, where Englert's school district is located, is at the center of a major coronavirus outbreak. In response, Belmond-Kelmme Community School District underwent widespread testing, which revealed Englert’s positive diagnosis.
While an official cause has not yet been released, Englert’s family believes his COVID-19 diagnosis may have led to a heart attack or stroke.
Englert began teaching in the district last August, and taught talented and gifted students as well as coached junior high volleyball, junior high girls basketball, and hoped to coach varsity girls track in the spring, according to his obituary.
Previously, Englert was a math teacher at another school.
Meanwhile, special education teacher Darla Arends in nearby Charles City died Friday after a COVID-19 diagnosis in September. She was 58.
“Darla loved her family and to spend time with them, most especially Jason and her nieces and nephews,” her obituary stated. “She also enjoyed flowers, gardening, baking, crafts, her ‘babies’ cats Grace and Whiskers, and the Iowa Hawkeyes.”
She taught in the community for 25 years, according to a statement by the school district.
"Her reach went well beyond her classroom and students, serving as a mentor for her Charles City Family. She is a beloved and valuable member of our family, and she will be deeply missed. When asked why she was a teacher, she responded, ‘to help students become themselves,’” the statement read, according to WOI.
Iowa had relatively few cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began in the United States around March, but the state is now seeing a spike in cases, with more than 4,000 new cases a day in the last week.