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HERNANDO, Miss. – A Mid-South teacher has passed away after a long battle with COVID, and parents and students who knew her are reeling.

DeSoto County Schools confirmed to WREG-TV on Monday, that a teacher has passed away after being hospitalized for weeks with COVID and pneumonia. They have not identified the teacher publicly, but there has been an outpouring of support from people who were friends with the teach and who worked with her in DeSoto County Schools.

“It’s heartbreaking! Honestly, everything is sad,” Tonia Doyle, her son was taught by the late teacher. “At the end of the year, she gave us candy, and gave us a book. It’s scary.”

DCS has been in-person for months, but the district has struggled with COVID outbreaks, and the county as a whole has had the most cases in the state.

According to the Mississippi Department of Public Health, DeSoto County has recorded 8,300 positive COVID cases, and DCS has fought various clusters since in-person learning resumed earlier this fall.

The risk of COVID transmission is higher when students are in the building, but some parents said taking that risk is the only way to make ends meet.

“It’s scary sending him out every day and me going out every day doing the work that I do in order to succeed and pay my bills and take care of my son,” Doyle said.

DeSoto County Schools told WREG-TV on Monday, they have not released a statement yet regarding the loss of this teacher, but we will update this story when they do.