Lee County schools mourn deaths of three employees

LEE COUNTY, Ky. (WTVQ) – Three beloved employees from the same Eastern Kentucky school have died from COVID-19.

Heather Antle, Bill Bailey and Rhonda Estes all worked at Lee County Elementary School, and all three were victims of the virus within the last few weeks – Estes, just Monday.

“They’re special parts of our family, and we’ll miss them,” Lee County Superintendent Sarah Wasson said. “Our staff are really hurting right now and just trying to figure out how to move on without these people that we love because we’re a small district, so we’re family.”

Wasson said all three had lovable personalities, and the students enjoyed being around them.

The district has counselors and faith-based leaders at every school.

“We’re just trying to help the children understand, so it’s a really difficult time for us,” Wasson said.

She said the school district has maintained universal masking, and students whose parents opt-in get tested every week. Wasson said nearly 200 students were tested last week, and only two were positive.

“So, I think we’re headed in the right direction, but the community-spread affects the schools,” Wasson said.

She said the tight-knit community is pretty good about letting the schools know if someone has the virus, but she stresses that everyone should take this seriously.

“COVID doesn’t look at borders,” Wasson said. “It doesn’t care if it’s a school or a place of business or if it’s anywhere. COVID exists everywhere.”

Wasson said it’s hard to move past such heavy, devastating losses, but the district will try to put on a brave face, for each other.

“We need some time to heal,” Wasson said. “We need each other and we’ll get through it, but it’s really a tough time right now.”

An educator group, Kentucky 120, reports statewide thus far at least 41 school employees have died of COVID-19.

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