Fayetteville art teacher dies days after testing positive for COVID-19, school officials say

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- A Fayetteville teacher died after testing positive for COVID-19 less than two weeks ago, according to Capitol Encore Academy officials.

Superintendent Will Kneer told ABC11 that 51-year-old Mary Ward started experiencing symptoms on October 29. After notifying the school administration, Ward took several tests and received a positive COVID-19 result on Nov. 1.

Capitol Encore Academy officials notified the Cumberland County Department of Public Health of the positive test and shut down in-person and online classes on Nov. 2.


Six days after testing positive, Kneer said Ward was hospitalized and died a day later.

"She was just really special and had a pretty profound impact on, just not her students, but the people she worked with and someone who will be dearly missed," Kneer said.

A memorial with notes, candles and drawings has been slowly growing outside the school building on Monday afternoon.

Ward was an art teacher at the school for the last two and a half years for Kindergarten through eighth grade.

The charter school has about 50 faculty members and around 620 students. It had only been doing about 50 percent in-person learning this school year.

'COVID-19 fatigue' contributing to surge in North Carolina cases, Fayetteville doctor says

Kneer said no other positive tests have arisen, but they've advised several people to self-quarantine out of an abundance of caution.

The CEA board of directors held a meeting Monday evening to determine how to approach the rest of the semester. The board voted to move to virtual learning until Jan. 4.

A secondary safety committee will also be created and comprised of administration and teachers to ensure everyone's voices are heard when in-class learning is discussed in 2021.
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