GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - A married couple who taught in the Grand Prairie Independent School District both lost their lives to COVID-19.
Family members and the school district confirm Paul and Rose Mary Blackwell's deaths. The couple’s son said they had been in the hospital for some time and both passed away within hours of each other on Sunday.
"It is with great sadness that we report the passing of two GPISD staff members after a courageous battle with COVID-19," Grand Prairie ISD said in a statement. "Rose Mary and Paul will be greatly missed by many. Our thoughts and prayers go out to their family, friends, co-workers, and students both current and former."
Paul taught PE and coached seventh-grade boys’ basketball at Fannin Middle School. Before that, he taught at the Young Men's Leadership Academy at Kennedy Middle School.
Rose Mary was the longest-tenured teacher at the Travis World Language Academy. She taught there for more than 20 years and was a bilingual second-grade teacher.
Paul and Rose Mary Blackwell
Additional counselors were at both campuses on Monday with 60% of the district’s students attending in-person classes.
“In a situation like this, we like to send in additional counselors so we can take some of that load off and make sure we can address the needs of both staff and students, said Sam Buchmeyer, with Grand Prairie ISD. “The influence of educators like that, it’s hard to quantify. We’ve had an opportunity today to reflect and talk to friends and family and former students.”
The social media impact alone is telling. On the FOX 4 Facebook page, there were hundreds of comments and reactions from those who knew the Blackwells and those who’ve never met them but are simply moved by the loss.
“When you start to think about it, start to reflect, the numbers of children that she alone has touched coming through the doors of Travis, it’s really a testament,” Buchmeyer said.
COVID-19 has been tough for the Blackwell family. Their son said several other relatives who are battling the virus are also very sick.