Zelene Blancas became known as the “hugging teacher” after a video of her students hugging each other went viral. Blancas died of COVID-19 after battling the virus in the ICU for nine weeks. She was 35.
In November 2018, the first grade teacher posted a heartwarming video of her students hugging with the simple caption, “what a nice way to end the week!" It has been viewed more than 24 million times.
The parents, students and teachers at Blancas’ elementary school in El Paso, Texas are mourning her loss.
“I want her to be remembered by the humble, loving person that she was,” school principal Cristina Sanchez-Chavira told Inside Edition. “She was always very loving and caring and kind.”