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Educator who said she nearly died of COVID-19 says schools made the right choice to go virtual in the fall

After Tonya Pass-Brown was admitted to the ER for coronavirus and pneumonia, she says she was relieved her school district decided on remote learning in August.

ATLANTA — An educator recovering from the coronavirus thinks schools in Georgia are making the right choice by going fully virtual this fall. 

Tonya Pass-Brown told 11Alive COVID-19 nearly killed her. 

She said she would sleep for days on end, and still wake up tired. Her temperature would spike so high that she started to hallucinate. She was admitted to the ER with a severe case of COVID-19 and pneumonia. She said she can't imagine children going back to school under this type of threat. 

"You can be in the hospital one day, home the next, or you can be gone - six feet under," she said. 

Pass-Brown said COVID-19 is an unpredictable and invisible threat that attacks everyone differently. 

"You can't possibly see COVID," she added. "If you allow all these kids, faculty, staff, everyone is going to be sick," she said. 

RELATED: Latinos, Hispanics face digital divide as metro Atlanta classes go virtual

Pass-Brown is an educator with Henry County Schools and praised all of the districts that made the difficult decision to go fully virtual in the fall. She said bringing students, faculty and staff back into one building could have been a disaster. 

"If you can't protect yourself, and you're sick, how can you take care of someone else's child that's in your care? How can you take care of your coworkers," she asked. 

Pass-Brown said she has followed the push back school leaders have gotten after making the decision to do remote learning, but after how sick she got, she said it was smart for them to stand strong. 

"It was very wise. I know it was a lot of disbelief and people coming up to the board members and ... trying to get them to allow those children to come back to school, but you can't do that until this is contained," she said. 

RELATED: Some parents consider 'learning pods' as many districts plan for virtual schooling

Pass-Brown said she doesn't believe any safety protocol would be safe enough for schools to reopen. 

Since March, she said she's been wearing a mask, washing her hands and social distancing - and she still contracted the virus. 

"I still have disbelief that I contracted COVID-19, because I am always very careful. How can we protect others when we can't protect ourselves," she asked. 

RELATED: Educators, parents gather for march, rally at Gwinnett County Public Schools headquarters

As a parent herself, Pass-Brown said she knows virtual learning will be difficult for families, but she thinks it's a necessary sacrifice. 

"I think it's saving lives," she said. 

Pass-Brown said she wants to be open about her experience with the virus so other people will take it more seriously.

She is still quarantining and hasn't tested negative, yet.

11Alive is focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the virus. We want to keep you informed about the latest developments while ensuring that we deliver confirmed, factual information.

We will track the most important coronavirus elements relating to Georgia on this page. Refresh often for new information. 

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