Following the deaths of at least 10 employees in the Montgomery Public School system since November, the Alabama Education Association sent a letter to MPS officials asking that they reassess COVID-19 protocols and procedures and called on the Alabama Department of Public Health to immediately start vaccinating Alabama educators.
The letter, sent by AEA associate executive director Theron Stokes, notes that most of the deaths are suspected coronavirus cases. Those numbers include four educators who died within 48 hours of each other last week, and Stokes said that “rash of deaths” indicates a serious problem.
“As the number of educators dying in Montgomery increases, the morale of the other remaining employees is sinking fast,” Stokes wrote. “MPS employees are fearful when entering school facilities and are concerned about their health and safety. It is time to act now.”
Stokes said AEA is calling on MPS officials to implement remote learning and teaching through the month of February in order to reassess the COVID protocols and remove teachers and staff from danger.
APR has previously reported on the high number of fatalities among MPS employees due to suspected COVID-19 infections. Many of the MPS employees who have died were hospitalized for several days and diagnosed with COVID, according to various posts on their social media accounts and on the accounts of family members and co-workers.
Included in the deaths are at least three coaches, and Stokes said that indicates a need to implement additional limitations on crowds at sporting events. Currently, the Alabama High School Athletic Association recommends no more than 20 percent capacity at events. Stokes and AEA would like to see MPS limit events to only coaches, staff, administration and immediate family members of players.
“It is important to enjoy sports, but we must do so wisely,” Stokes said. “Safety should be the first priority.”
The four educators who died last week were Leslye Ames, a music teacher from B.T.W. Magnet School; Dwayne Berry, a football coach from R.E. Lee High; Lushers Lane, a physical education teacher from Capitol Heights Middle School; and DeCarlos Perkins, a coach from Park Crossing High.
Ames’ church, Autaugaville United Methodist, where she was the organist, poseidon Facebook earlier this month that Ames was hospitalized in the ICU with COVID-19. Berry’s daughter posted on Facebook several weeks ago that Berry was hospitalized with COVID. Several of Lane’s friends have posted in the last week that he was hospitalized with and never recovered from COVID.