A Bonneville Joint School District 93 elementary teacher died at her home on Tuesday.
In an email to the Post Register sent on Wednesday, district Superintendent Scott Woolstenhulme confirmed Karen Willert, a sixth-grade teacher at Tiebreaker Elementary School, died unexpectedly after being on sick leave for several days.
In an email he sent to district staff on Wednesday, he wrote that a family member reported Willert had exhibited symptoms that were consistent with COVID-19, although the cause of her death has not been determined.
“She was a beloved member of the Tiebreaker faculty, and her presence will be missed by staff and students,” Woolstenhulme wrote in the email to staff.
Willert first started teaching at the district in 2005 at Ucon Elementary. In 2013, she became a teacher at Tiebreaker.
“This loss is a sobering reminder of the courage that each of you — our principals, teachers and pupil support staff, front office and child nutrition, maintenance, and technology and custodial workers, bus drivers and transportation staff — show each day when you show up to be there for our kids. Your courage to continue to do so in the face of this pandemic is nothing less than heroic,” Woolstenhulme wrote to staff.
He said in the email to staff that while he was not making any presumption about the cause of Willert’s death, it is evident that the state and the eastern Idaho region are experiencing a significant outbreak of COVID-19.
“I would strongly encourage us to all wear masks when we cannot maintain physical distancing. I would also ask you to please give your most serious consideration to receiving the vaccine if you haven’t yet,” he wrote to staff.