New York Department of Education has reported at least 50 of its employees have died after contracting the coronavirus.
The department released the number on Monday, detailing that 22 of those who lost their lives to COVID-19 were paraprofessionals, 21 were teachers, two were administrators, one was a facilities staffer, one was a guidance counselor and another was a food service staffer.
“This is painful news for too many of our communities—each number represents a life, a member of one our schools or offices, and the pain their loved ones are experiencing is unimaginable," Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza said in a statement.
Carranza also said students and staff will receive remote crisis and grief counseling each day.
The number of deaths was from data sent to the DOE by the families and loved ones of employees and it has not been confirmed by the Department of Health as related to COVID-19, the department said. It is likely that the death toll is higher.
The United Federation of Teachers has set up a memorial website where the union honors members who have reportedly died from the virus that has killed over 10,000 in New York so far.
Among the latest reported death from the UFT was paraprofessional Carmen Manto of Woodside, Queens.
"Carmen was known for being fiercely protective of her family as well as exhibiting a quick wit and sass that made her a focus at every gathering. Her friends and family will miss her amusing remarks," the union wrote.
The death toll on educators also comes as Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio argue over when schools would reopen.
De Blasio, who closed school buildings a month ago, announced Saturday that they wouldn't reopen for the remainder of the school year, saying it was neither safe nor logistically possible.
“That’s his opinion," Cuomo countered at a briefing that followed the mayor's, adding: “There has been no decision on the schools."
Cuomo has maintained that the legal authority to reopen schools rests with him under his emergency powers and that he thinks the decision must be made on a regional basis.
"The right thing to do for our kids to protect everyone, the right thing to do is keep the schools closed. that is what it comes down to," de Blasio said on Sunday and teachers agree.
"Keeping school buildings closed is the right decision — regardless of who is responsible," UFT President Michael Mulgrew said.