LEXINGTON, Ky. (FOX 56/WKYT) – A well-loved instructional aide died of COVID-19. Lee County officials say this should send shockwaves through the community to take precautions and get vaccinated.
Just days after starting a new school year, Heather Antle became critically ill. She died on Sunday. With her death comes news of other students and staff either sick or in quarantine because of the virus.
Those who worked with her said Antle brought joy to many in her 5th grade classroom at Lee County Elementary.
“The kids loved her. Always had a hug, a kiss, a smile. Just to make the day brighter,” Lee County Judge Executive Chuck Caudill said.
Caudill worked with her as a substitute. Now he and many others in the county of just over 7,000 are grieving for her loss and dealing with many others who recently fell sick to the delta variant of COVID-19.
“We had some very sick people so we took two days off last week and this week we are on virtual learning or NTI,” said Sarah Wasson with Lee County Schools.
Since starting on August 10, they have had difficulty finding continuity in a schedule because of so many students and staff becoming sick. They say it’s impacting countless families in the county.
The judge executive said last week, six county workers were out. With Antle’s death, and others seriously ill, he said it sends a loud and clear message.
“I would like to think this will sound an alarm, and I pray it does. Because she was so well known. Her family was well known,” Caudill said.
Local officials won’t confirm Antle’s vaccination status, but Caudill said he believes more should be getting the vaccine.
“I know I sound like a broken record. There is risk in a vaccine. But it is all measured, far more risk in catching COVID and not being vaccinated,” Caudill said.
Caudill also said two magistrates died last year and more than 20 countywide since the virus started.
Lee County Schools will be on a virtual format all of this week, but hope to return to the classroom September 7.