(CBS News)–A New York City principal has died because of complications of the coronavirus, officials said. Dezann Romain, 36, is the first known public school staff member to die of the virus.
Romain worked at Brooklyn Democracy Academy, a transfer high school for overage or under-credited students. A union representing New York City’s school supervisors and administrators announced her death.
“It is with profound sadness and overwhelming grief that we announce the passing of our sister, CSA member Dezann Romain, Principal of Brooklyn Democracy Academy, due to complications from Coronavirus,” the Council of Schools Supervisors and Administrators said in a statement obtained by Chalkbeat, a nonprofit news website that covers education.
New York City school chancellor Richard Carranza called her death “painful for all of us” and extended his condolences to the Brooklyn Democracy Academy and Romain’s family.
“We’ll be there for the students and staff through whatever means necessary during this impossibly difficult time,” he said in a statement to CBS New York.
Councilman Mark Treyger, who is the chair of the city’s education committee, mourned the loss of Romain and called out city agencies for their response to the coronavirus pandemic.
“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,” Treyger tweeted.
It is unclear if Romain had any underlying health conditions. She is one of 125 New York City residents to die of COVID-19.
Her impact as an educator is still felt today. Keticia Alvarez, who had Romain as an art teacher at Frederick Douglas High School in Far Rockaway almost 10 years ago, said she always “pushed us to think outside the box and color inside the lines.”
“Her presence and attitude in class made her class like an escape for many,” Alvarez told CBS News. “From the struggles of every day high school life, her class was so relaxing and judgment free.”
Three people have died under the age of 44, according to the city’s latest statistics. The number of positive cases in the city was at 13,119 as of 6 p.m. Monday, CBS New York reported. De Blasio said New York City needs more help from the federal government.
“We are the epicenter of this crisis,” de Blasio said. “No one wants that distinction, not a single one of us, but it is true that we are the epicenter of this crisis, and that’s why we so desperately need help, particularly from our federal government to get through it.”