FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — A 29-year-old eastern Kentucky teacher known as a role model for her students has died after battling COVID-19, the district's superintendent said Wednesday.
Joannie Bartley, a middle school math teacher in the Jenkins Independent district, died Monday at Pikeville Medical Center.
Superintendent Damian Johnson said Wednesday that she was a “wonderful person” who was dedicated to teaching and her students.
"She was a role model to her students," he said by phone. "She was a positive influence. And everyone who came in contact with her was better for having her a part of their life.”
Bartley was fully vaccinated against the virus and was meticulous about wearing a mask, Johnson said. The district requires universal mask-wearing in school.
At least 41 Kentucky K-12 schools employees have died as a result of the coronavirus since 2020, according to the educators group Kentucky 120 United. Three staff members at Lee County Elementary in eastern Kentucky have died from the virus since the school term began.
With a few exceptions, school boards across Kentucky voted to keep masks on students and staffs while at school as the delta variant drives up COVID-19 infections and deaths. The Republican-led legislature shifted masking decisions to local school leaders.