28-year-old teacher at SC public school dies of COVID-19

Updated: Sep. 9, 2020 at 11:17 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - A 28-year-old Richland Two teacher has died from complications of COVID-19, district officials confirmed Wednesday.

Demetria (Demi) Bannister was a third-grade teacher at Windsor Elementary School. She had been in the teaching profession for five years.

“I want to express my sincere condolences to Ms. Bannister’s parents, relatives, friends and school family," Richland Two Superintendent Dr. Baron Davis said in a statement. "While gone from us too soon, Ms. Bannister’s legacy lives on through the lives of the students she taught in her five years as a dedicated educator. To honor Ms. Bannister’s memory I ask the Richland Two family to join me in reaffirming our commitment to doing all we can to provide premier learning experiences for all students in the safest environment possible and doing our part to slow the spread of COVID-19.”

Some former co-workers describe her as a teacher who went above and beyond for her students, and who had a passion for the arts..

Patricio Aravena is the music teacher at Windsor and says watching Bannister break out dance moves in the middle of the hallway was normal.

“She provided us with a lot of character,” Aravena said.

“Known as Windsor’s Songbird, Ms. Bannister used her musical talents to bring a great deal of joy to our school,” said Denise Quickel, principal of Windsor Elementary. “For our school’s Attendance Matters kickoff in 2019 she wrote a song about the importance of coming to school to the tune of ‘Old Town Road’. The song and video were a big hit with our school family. Ms. Bannister loved her students and never missed an opportunity to advocate for students and public education.”

Richland Two says Bannister was last inside the Windsor Elementary building on Aug. 28 during the final teacher workdays at the school.

She was not showing symptoms at that time and all cleaning protocols were followed, the district said.

Richland Two was notified of Bannister’s positive COVID-19 test on Sept. 5. An email was sent to Windsor Elementary staff that day explaining the 28-year-old teacher was hospitalized due to the virus. She died Monday, Sept. 7.

While this school community is grieving, they’re trying to stay positive.

“If she was around, she would say something along the lines of, ‘come on guys, you know you should cheer up. You should keep going on and just make people happy,’” Aravena said.

Bannister’s co-workers say her joyful spirit and love for students will live on inside the Windsor Elementary building.

To leave a message for Ms. Bannister’s family, click or tap here.

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