Fayette Co. school employee’s death connected to COVID-19

Published: Oct. 15, 2020 at 5:46 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - A Fayette County Public Schools employee’s death has been linked to COVID-19.

Ruthie Martinez was a permanent substitute teacher in her second year working at Winburn Middle School.

Principal Mike Hale sent a letter to families writing Martinez’s death was determined to be COVID-related. Hale said she was last on campus four days before she died.

“Ms. Martinez was a warrior and always will be a warrior in our hearts,” said Hale.

Shortly after, the letter states someone in her household tested positive for the virus.

A district spokeswoman said the school worked with the health department to do contact tracing. One staff member was quarantined for 14 days out of an abundance of caution, and certain areas of the building were deep cleaned.

Fayette County Schools Superintendent Manny Caulk said in a statement, “The news that her death has now been linked to COVID-19 is an important reminder for all of us that this virus is a very real health threat.”

The Lexington-Fayette County Health Department confirmed Martinez’s exposure was not workplace-related.

Principal Hale said they did not know someone else in her household was positive until her death.

“We had one staff member that a week prior to the death had eaten lunch with Ms. Martinez and they were still 6 feet apart but when you’re eating lunch masks comes off,” explained Hale.

School leaders said only a handful of students had direct contact with her this year.

“She filled a lot of different roles for us both certified and classified, always eager to take on any responsibility and had a good rapport with the staff a good rapport with the kids,” Principal Hale said.

Caulk also acknowledged that this news comes as the district decides when and how in-person instruction will resume.

Martinez’s death was not included in the Fayette County Health Department’s COVID-19 report Thursday.

Principal Hale said school employees are creating a pin in honor of Martinez and other staff members who have died over the last five years.

He said teachers will wear the pin and it will be given to the families of those who died.

Copyright 2020 WKYT. All rights reserved.