Dezann Romain, 36, worked at Brooklyn Democracy Academy in Brownsville.
She is the first known New York City public school staff member to die from the virus, reports CBS2’s Aundrea Cline-Thomas.
Romain is being remembered as a cheerleader for her students, with a healthy dose of tough love. Her alternative school was for over-age students who still needed credits to get their diploma.
“She was someone who stood in her truth, who was going to advocate for children, who was there to listen to them, who was a nurturer,” said Middle School Principal Nadia Lopez.
Lopez serves in the same community and often referred students to Brooklyn Democracy, knowing that principal Romain would take care of them.
“A lot of students ended up going to college,” she said. “There were other institutions who didn’t believe in them. But she did and so did her team.”
In a statement, Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza offered his condolences, saying in part, “We’ll be there for the students and staff through whatever means necessary.”
“I am also demanding to know from the DOE more details and more information about the circumstances that lead to this principal’s death,” said Council Member Mark Treyger.
This needs to serve as a wake-up call for DOHMH, DOE, and City Hall around their collective response to COVID-19 cases in school buildings, even as students are learning from home. 2/3
— Mark Treyger (@MarkTreyger718) March 24, 2020
The sign outside Brooklyn Democracy says “Changing lives one student at a time.”
By all indications it wasn’t just a slogan for Romain, it’s a truth she embodied.
Now her death puts the numbers impacted by the coronavirus in harsh focus, and many say it shows how educators are also on the front lines.
The number of positive cases in the city was at 15,597 as of 6 p.m. Tuesday.
For help, visit New York City’s official coronavirus website, call 311, or text “COVID” to 692-692.