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Fort Braden community saddened by loss of two elementary school employees to COVID-19

Posted at 11:10 PM, Jul 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-27 23:10:04-04

FORT BRADEN, Fla. (WTXL) — The Fort Braden Community in shock after the death of another faculty member.

Karen Bradwell worked at Fort Braden Elementary for 25 years.

It's been a tough week and a half for faculty and students at Fort Braden Elementary School after losing two of their own, Jordan Byrd and Karen Bradwell. Both died from COVID-19.

"I would pick Jacob up and she would be, like, 'we did pancakes today, we had popcorn, and we had Movie Day,'" said Kimberly Walsh, a Ft. Braden parent.

Walsh and her son knew Karen Bradwell as Ms. Karen.

The news of her death Sunday due to COVID-19 was unexpected.

"We're devastated," Walsh said. "We loved Ms. Karen so much and we're so sad to hear about her passing."

Bradwell, director of the school after-school care was the second employee to die of the virus and the third known employee to get the virus.

Jordan Byrd, a former Godby student and custodian at Fort Braden was working his way through school.

"Two families have lost people too soon," said Jimbo Jackson, the principal at Ft. Braden.

Jackson recently recovered from COVID-19, and tells ABC 27 this loss hits too close to home, raising red flags for reopening schools.

He says he can't support students and teachers returning to brick and mortar schools as cases of the virus continue to rise.

"You are not supposed to have a funeral service for a 19-year old son and you're not supposed to lose a 53-year-old pillar in our school community to an illness such as this," Jackson said.

Parents at the school say they are on the fence as children are set to return in less than a month.

Right now they are taking this time to grieve the loss of two of their own.

"We're thinking of her daughter and her family in their time of need," said Walsh.

Leon County Schools is set to reopen August 24.

A GoFundMe account has been set up to help Bradwell's family with funeral costs, available by clicking here.